Living in the world means you learn a lot of things. How not to spend all your money. How to get tomato stains out of white shirts. How to take care of yourself when you have the flu. How not to be a jerk. How to navigate around all your own little quirks so you can function well with other humans. How to use three remote controls in mysterious, magical conjunction to get the damn TV to turn on.
I've learned all of these things - and even more things! - with varying degrees of success. But the best one I've learned is...
Do The Nice Thing
Doing the nice thing is far more important than remote controls or white shirts or even not spending all your money. Because doing the nice thing makes people feel good. The remote controls and white shirts don't really need help with that. They're pretty happy being inanimate objects. But the people? They need attention.
When the heavenly light hits my scalp and the perfect nice thing occurs to me, I've found that it's worth dropping whatever I'm doing and doing said nice thing right then and there. Jumping on Amazon and pressing purchase. Writing the note. Sending the invitation. If I put Buy Awesome Gift for Friend on my to-do list, it keeps dropping down the list until said friend has purchased it for herself, moved away, or died.*
* No one died. I just enjoy melodramatic artistic license.
The first time I did the nice thing, I was having some trouble in a relationship. I was sitting at my desk at work, feeling mad and hurt and put-upon and all those other annoying emotions that crop up when you're trying to love someone as best you can but inevitably have awful feelings about them instead. Eventually, I started wondering why I loved him. A few seconds later, I thought it might be nice if I told him why. Happier for him because he gets a love letter instead of a girlfriend with a vengeful expression and happier for me because I got to stop stewing in my bubbling mire of discontent.
Yes, I was at work. Yes, I should have been doing other things. But that job is long gone, even the relationship is long gone - but writing and sending that letter right then and there remains one of the best decisions I've ever made. It lifted me out of the hurt and into a space where I could remember why I loved him.
Other Nice Things
Spending a morning sending Twitter Love Bombs instead of working.
(This time, I was self-employed so it was a totally kosher time management decision.This is one of the main reasons I want to be self-employed. So I can spend my morning sending people love notes instead of working if I damn well please.)
Hands down, this was the best morning's work I've ever done. I highly recommend the Twitter Love Bomb. They're easy, just direct messages to your favorite people stuffed with 140 characters of why they're awesome. Yeah, 140 characters isn't much, but it cuts down on the writers block. Kerrianne calls it the sucker-punch of sunshine, which remains the best description ever.
Put a CD in a tree.
This makes sense, I promise. When I was cleaning out my apartment, I loaded my last few CDs onto my laptop and got rid of them. I had a friend's band's album in my possession and, as one would imagine, hesitated to dump it in the Goodwill bag.
As I stood there, jewel case in dithering hand, I decided to do the first thing that popped into my head. I stuck on a post-it note that said, "Listen to this. You'll love it." and carefully perched the CD in the tree outside my door. When I went back outside a few hours later, the CD was gone. YOU'RE WELCOME, WHOEVER TOOK THE CD OUT OF MY TREE. YOU'RE WELCOME, FRIEND'S BAND THAT NOW HAS A NEW RABID ALBUM-SNATCHING FAN.
I'm pretty sure there are more - I mean, I hope there are more, because if I've only done two nice things in the last three years then I pretty much suck as a human being - but you get the point. You probably got my point seven paragraphs ago because you are a keen point-getter and also I like to talk a lot.
AT ANY RATE.
You might be really good about putting nice things on your to-do list and actually doing them, but I'm not. If you aren't either, I highly recommend dropping everything when that burst of inspiration strikes and getting the nice thing out into the world. You can usually knock off a nice thing in five minutes or less. Think about how much time you just spent checking Facebook. Yep. Me too.
The more you do the nice thing, the more you find other people who also do the nice things and the more your whole world gets better. Of course it does. You know how this works.
So if there's a nice thing that's been pinging or sproinging or niggling you, or doing anything else to you that's also not a word, I totally recommend making it happen. You'll feel amazing, the person who receives it will feel amazing, anyone who witnesses the exchange will feel amazing. ALL THE AMAZING. The world can use more amazing.
If you do the nice thing (or even just put it on your to-do list), I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Because I don't have a nice thing at the moment and I want to feed off your niceness like a serotonin-starved vampire.