62: Be Nice

62: Be Nice

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Be Nice

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

~Dalai Lama

I lived at home while I went to college, and I appreciated the extra time with my family. I respected my mom’s wisdom and I actually took her advice! One day particularly stands out for me, a day when a simple piece of advice became a lifelong lesson.

I don’t remember what I was upset about, but I remember vividly that I was talking on the kitchen phone to someone, a classmate or a boyfriend, and there was an issue. Mom was busy as usual with household tasks and she wasn’t one to eavesdrop or interfere. But for some reason she knew as the call went on that my mood was not improving. Suddenly she stood before me with a tiny scrap of paper. On it were two words and a drawing. She handed it to me with a smile and then left the room to get back to her projects.

I looked at the tiny paper in my hand. It read: “Be Nice” and had a smiley face drawing.

I heeded her advice. From that point onward the conversation took a friendlier tone. By its conclusion the tenseness I had felt was eased. All was at peace in my world.

But there is more to the story about the little piece of paper with two words of advice and the hand-drawn smiley face. When I graduated and moved out, that little piece of paper moved with me. I displayed it on my refrigerator, secured in place by a magnet. For many years that piece of paper moved with me and served as a constant reminder. Whenever I had to deal with a difficult person or situation, I could always look at that paper and find a solution to my problems.

Today that paper no longer adorns the refrigerator my husband and I share. Rather, it is tucked safely away in a box of other cherished mementos, which one day will be put into a scrapbook or shadow box.

Whenever I feel stressed or impatient in the presence of a challenging person, I visualize my mom handing me that piece of paper and I act accordingly. Who would have ever guessed the timeless value of two little words and smiley face on a simple little scrap of paper?

~Michelle A. Watkins

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