They say nice guys finish last–a sentiment that over the years, I’ve found to be mostly untrue.
The notion you have to be a ruthless jerk to make it in this life? Nonsense.
In a world full of perpetual stresses and rampant injustice, being able to cultivate kindness is a genuine display of strength.
Contrary to popular belief, just because you’re kind-hearted doesn’t mean you can’t also be firm and stand your ground if need be.
So if anyone’s ever told you, “You’re too nice” start considering that a compliment more than anything.
In this article, I’ll talk you through the key ways kindness is also a sign of strength.
Let’s dive in.
1) You’re consistent
Anyone can be kind when in good spirits, but it only truly counts when they’re consistent.
You can be engaging after getting a raise or after your team wins a ballgame, but does that type of sentiment carry over to the more routine moments of your existence?
Do you exhibit a demeanor of empathy and understanding even on your more challenging days?
If you answered yes to the above, then your kindness is a strength. If not, then not so much.
My ex would be extremely kind to me when she was in a positive mood–like after hanging out with her friends, or on the mornings she got up on the right side of the bed.
She’d be a joy to be around.
But the longer we dated, the more I began to notice that her kindness would often fade abruptly, sometimes without warning.
She would act like a saint for one hour, but after encountering any form of mild stress, her entire disposition would undergo a significant transformation.
She’d get volatile and short-tempered, occasionally downright mean.
Eventually, I came to approach her good moods with caution, fearful she could go off at me any second.
This experience has taught me to take spurts of kindness in stride.
At the end of the day, kindness is a true show of character only when it’s consistent.
2) You have no expectations
Speaking of authenticity, kindness is far more meaningful when there are no ulterior motives involved.
We live in the age of TikTok, where acts of selflessness are regularly showcased on the internet by ambitious influencers in the form of seemingly charitable acts, like giving cash away to the needy.
But I have to ask myself, how genuine can this possibly be if it’s filmed and posted as content for the entire world to see?
Call me old school, but I believe true kind acts are done without expecting anything in return.
When you’re truly kind, you tend to be fuelled by the desire to actually improve somebody’s life rather than gain likes, admiration, money, or sponsorships.
I’m from a natural disaster-prone area of the world.
Annually, without fail, there is an unprecedented typhoon or landslide that claims hundreds of lives, and far more livelihoods.
And every time, my 87-year-old grandmother anonymously makes donations to the victims involved.
My grandmother is not obscenely wealthy.
But she donates because she is genuinely concerned and has compassion for those living in circumstances more dire than her own.
She has never broadcasted her charitable actions, I had to pry it out of her.
When we reach this level of selflessness and empathy, then it’s safe to say that our kindness is also a resounding sign of strength.
3) You set boundaries
Just because you’re kind doesn’t give people the license to walk all over you.
This is the type of polarized thinking perpetuated by online talking heads, the Andrew Tate’s of the world–i.e. that being “kind” is a liability and a weakness.
When you’re equal parts strong and kind, people can’t take advantage of you regardless of your soft exterior.
You can be altruistic and understanding, but also stay firm about maintaining your dignity, having your boundaries, and being conscious of when those boundaries are violated.
You know how to say ‘no’ when you have to, and that letting down a few people is a natural and inevitable part of life. You don’t beat yourself up about it.
This is because kindness for you isn’t exclusively limited to the external world, you practice self-kindness as well–something that is equally as important.
4) You’re proactive
Anyone can feel bad for homeless people or the disenfranchised, but for most of us, that compassion is fleeting until the next distraction comes along.
Maybe you’ll even passively post our sympathies on social media to let everyone know you’re a decent person (i.e. slacktivism.)
Your kindness becomes a strength when instead of merely reacting to situations, you assertively seek out opportunities to help.
You’re able to put your money where your mouth is and actually make a positive difference in the lives of those affected.
This proactive approach can inspire those around you, and even those who aren’t.
Remember, every act of kindness counts, however small. When done for the right reasons, this can create a ripple effect, inspiring many to join in and create something extraordinary.
5) You don’t get overwhelmed by negativity
Have you noticed that everyone is a little angry and on edge lately?
We live in a tense and cynical world: non-stop culture wars, massive wealth inequality, dystopian media outlets, high interest, food stamps, out-of-control crime and gun deaths, and so on and so forth.
I could go on all day.
Therefore, anyone naturally kind and positive can easily regress into an embittered and jaded person over time, excessively caught up with the pessimistic tedium and angst of the world.
It takes a genuinely strong person to maintain kindness and optimism in these aggravating circumstances.
So, if this sounds like you, then give yourself a pat on the back.
You’re not easily swayed by petty emotions; you’re able to maintain your character amidst all the stresses of the modern world.
Don’t let up.
Whoever told you being kind is a weakness needs to get their priorities in order.
Kindness in such an imperfect world is as strong and commanding a trait as any.
It’s also pretty badass. I won’t lie.
If you’re already naturally kind, consider that a gift, not a burden. Keep wielding it in the right direction.
And if you feel the nice person card has been detrimental to you in your life, just remember being nice or kind doesn’t mean you should let people take advantage of you.
You can have it both ways.
Once you find that balance, you’ll find meaning.