The Daily Groove

Have a NICE day!

Most of us have been thoroughly trained to be "nice." The 2-part Rule of Nice goes like this...

Part 1: Only say and do things that please others.

Part 2: If you feel like saying or doing something that might possibly displease someone, see Part 1.

So, to obey the Rule of Nice at all times, you have to get pretty good at not being authentic. But being inauthentic is not very nice, so the only way to win this game is not to play it!

Children are naturally authentic, which means they often aren't "nice." You're supposed to pressure them to obey the Rule of Nice, but wouldn't it be nicer to let them inspire you to be more authentic?


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What is "authentic"?

A reader sent me this question:

I think it would help me to know what you mean by "authentic" — true to yourself?

Yes. Or better put: true to your Self (capital 'S'). You are most authentic when you are aligned with your soul, your "Higher Self."

It can be tricky, because you may at times "feel like" smacking your child, and you might think, "Wouldn't it be 'authentic' for me to be true to my feelings and smack the little shit?"

The answer is that it's good to honor your feelings, and such honoring will lead you to your Authentic Self, but you don't need to act out the images associated with the feeling in order to move in the direction of authenticity.

Likewise, you can appreciate a person's beauty, and even be turned on by it, but that doesn't mean you're inauthentic if you choose not to have sex with every person you find attractive! You're a multi-faceted person, so your authentic choices will involve many considerations and desires.

You can "feel like" lashing out at your child, and honor that feeling — let it guide your inner process — while at the same time honoring your authentic desire to experience loving kindness with your child. Out of that multi-faceted honoring will come many creative ideas for ways to respond that feel more authentic.

Re: Have a NICE day!

Scott -

you really are too funny (re:response to reader's question...). This DG was very timely for me (as usual), I've stopped prompting my children to be polite, nice, socially groomed, etc. (I mean I still have set standards about hygiene, but not verbal 'niceties'). No more "Can you say 'thank you'?" or "What's the magic word?" or "apologize to _____ , please."

I never felt right saying things like this to my kids, and resolved not to - but somewhere along the way social pressure crept in. I guess it has to do with my perception of how i am perceived as a parent. my ego wanted to hear "Oh, your children are so polite" or 'well mannered' (or 'nice'!).

BUT, sometimes i cringe when we're around other people and my kids don't say thank you - my oldest can be like the Anti-Emily Post. She'll walk up to people(she doesn't know), fire very direct questions at them (like, 'can I have some of your food'), not respond when asked for her name, leave with out thanking, etc. I still hold the conviction that the 'social graces' or adaptation will occur - but I sometimes really want some results in the now! So thank you for the reminder, it reinforces my values, and shows me that the root of my discomfort is really my own desire to be appreciated socially as a good, or at least adequate parent!

Re: Have a NICE day!

You can deliver the missing thank-you's yourself until your daughter figures out that saying thanks is a social norm that benefits both the thanker and the thankee.

When you give thanks on her behalf, don't do it as if to apologize for her lack of social grace. First you want to connect with your own authentic gratitude for the generosity this person has shown towards your daughter, and let that feeling come through in your expression.

She will witness you using the ritual of giving thanks as a way to amplify good feelings all around, and she'll eventually want to initiate it herself.