Nice is the word we use to describe a pleasant thing. It also means agreeable, courteous, and polite — all characteristics that we admire in a person. But the meaning of nice can get a little murky when we start discussing moral issues. Is a nice thing something that is merely pleasant, or is it a pleasing act that goes against the rules? To determine the difference, let’s look at the definitions of nice.
A city in southeast France.
1. Pleasing or pleasant in nature: a nice dinner.
2. Pleasing or pleasant in appearance: a nice dress.
3. Exhibiting courtesy or politeness: a nice smile.
4. Exhibiting a good character and reputation: a nice gentleman.
5. Pleasant or agreeable in feelings: a nice evening.
In general, nice people want to be liked — they want others to like them. They’re willing to compromise their values to achieve this end goal, and they often lose sight of who they are as individuals in the process. A good person, on the other hand, knows their value and won’t give up their beliefs for a crowd.
They’re also more confident in themselves, so they’re less afraid of losing friends or ruffling feathers by standing up for what they believe in. If their friends are doing something that’s against their values, a good person will speak up and let them know that this isn’t OK.
Nice people often have a half-full cup that they’re looking to fill up with the approval of others. This is why they’re so prone to following the crowd. But a good person doesn’t need the approval of others to feel valued and worthy.
Rather than just going along with the crowd, a good person will stand up for what they believe in. For example, if their friends are trying to convince them to go skinny dipping, a good person will speak up and tell them that it’s not cool. They’ll even be willing to risk losing a friend or two in the process if it means that they will never be able to fit in with the group again.
Niceness is a logical trait rooted in the left side of the brain — it’s all about giving this to get that, doing this and then seeing what happens. Compassion, on the other hand, is an emotional instinct rooted in the right side of the brain. This is why some people are naturally compassionate while others have to work at it. It’s not fair to say that one type of personality is better than another, but it’s important to understand the differences between nice and compassion in order to be a good person.