Being Nice versus Being Wholesome

June 13th, 2018

Included in almost every self-help book, motivational speaker’s presentation, and even religious tenets, there’s usually something included along the lines of “We should be nice to each other”. I’m going to present an antithesis that you should not be nice to others and yet you should also not be mean.

Why nice is bad or why people fail to become a “nice” person

When we try to be nice, we have to think what to say. In other words, we have to go out of our way to be nice. That makes being nice all the time is draining… just ask anyone who’s worked in retail. It’s hard to be nice…

Nice (adj)

  1. pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory
  2. fine or subtle, requiring careful thought or attention

Usually people pick who they want to be nice to. To that end, being nice to someone is usually done with some sort of ulterior motive:

  • I might make a friend
  • This person may help me in someway in the future
  • Me being nice might result in some reward in this life (or the next)
  • A belief in karma, or “what goes around comes around”
  • I might become a better person if I am nice more often

Social grace dictates that we never publicly admit to the above. Deep down, we all know that people are nice because they want something. Wholesomeness is the opposite of being nice.

A Guide to Wholesomeness

Words of encouragement and niceties should not be restricted to the inner monologue in your head. We’ve all thought of things similar to the following about others:

  • That watch looks nice on him
  • They make a great couple
  • He looks great in that suit
  • They’ve been working hard lately
  • She’s a good mother
  • He’s always pleasant to be around

And yet most people rarely share those thoughts out of fear of sounding strange, creepy, or being misinterpreted. We can avoid that by being wholesome.

Let’s pretend you have a co-worker named Monica. While walking in the hallway you see Monica recent changed her hairstyle. Wholesome you responds:

You: “Monica, your hair looks nice today”
You: *walks away*

Notice there was no extended conversation. You didn’t even wait for Monica to respond. The nice you might be raising all sorts of red flags that you should have engaged in pleasant conversation. Nice you is wrong.

By immediately walking away, you’re showing there is no hidden motive to your positive comment:

  • You are not using flatterly to attempt to hide giving Monica extra work to do
  • You are not showing romantic interest in Monica
  • You do not want to know who her hair stylist is so you can go there
  • You are not making idle conversation because you’re bored
  • You are not using her as a convenient escape from doing your work

After going through the above list, Monica will probably be at a loss with interpreting the interaction. After all most people are nice not wholesome. Monica will eventually conclude that you simply liked her hair.

She looks good and she should feel good about herself.

That’s the art of being wholesome.

Wholesomeness in a nutshell

Wholesomeness is meant to be genuine. It can’t be planned in advance and it’s never done for any sort of personal benefit, but for others. Wholesomeness is sharing kind words as soon as you think of them and leaving no room for interpretation.

  • Think it
  • Say it
  • Leave it

Tell someone anything that’s kind as soon as it enters your mind. That will stop you from overthinking it, trying to play the conversation out in your head, or any other excuse your mind can muster not to share kind words with someone.

Similarly, you should then excuse yourself without further ado. That’s for the other person’s benefit, so they don’t attribute your kind words to any sort of motive you may have. You said those nice things because they deserve it and should feel good about themselves. It helps if the location is temporal, such as walking past them in a hallway. Even if you’re in conversation you can leave it as a closing remark (an oh by the way…) before you say goodbye.

Being wholesome is similar to committing random acts of kindness.

The End Goal

There is no reward for being wholesome. You should do it because it’s the right thing to do. Wholesomeness makes people feel good about themselves, rewards them for being themselves, and uplifts people who might feel down.

Wholesomeness (adj)

  1. Conducive to or indicative of good health or well-being; salutary and simple.
  2. Conducive to or promoting social or moral well-being, especially in reflecting conventional moral values

Being nice is the hope that someone will in turn be nice to you. Being wholesome is the same thing, but without that expectation.