Choose to Be Nice: More than a T-Shirt

Disclosure: This article was written on behalf of Pollen-8 for Choose to Be Nice.  I received free product to facilitate the review, but was not compensated monetarily.  All opinions are 100% my own.

You know that old saying “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes?” I think we need to remember that more often, dear reader.  Our world has become a scary place.  A not-so-nice-place sometimes, if you ask me (and you’re visiting my blog, and reading my words, so I’m going to assume that in fact, yes, you WERE asking me).  Luckily, there is one woman on a mission to change that.

Her name is Dina Creiger, and her mission is called “Choose to Be Nice.”  When I heard about her concept, I loved it so much that I knew I just had to participate.


Dina’s idea is that if we all just take a minute to remind ourselves what’s nice inside ourselves, we might influence others to do the same.  It’s about making a choice to be kind, and to inspire kindness in others.  And I just LOVE that idea.

Too often I think we get caught up in the day-to-day pressures of modern life—getting places on time, dealing with traffic, multi-tasking, and telecommuting, and all kinds of junk that kind of gums up our chi.  And then, we take it out on each other: we tap our feet impatiently when the person in front of us takes too long at the checkout counter, we roll our eyes at the elderly couple crossing the street while we’re running late, we curse and use every name in the book when someone cuts us off on the freeway (oh… that’s just in LA? My bad).


In any case, I think if we just took a step back, and reminded ourselves that it’s easier to be nice, that kindness IS a choice, and that everyone is going through something that we might not understand—life would be so much easier.  I mean—we haven’t found any other life forms just like us anywhere in the universe so far.  That makes us pretty darn special.  Shouldn’t we band together and support each other, rather than working so hard to rip each other apart? It seems to me that we should spend what precious little time we have on Earth building the human race to be better, instead of throwing it down the tubes.


The bottom line is—we never know what another person is going through, what they are facing, or the issues that are weighing on them at that current moment in time.  We need to give each other a break. And be NICE.


Let me break it down for you.

I’m about to really get serious here for a minute, dear reader, so I hope you’ll excuse me. I’m going to talk about some things that I’ve never shared on my blog before.  It’s not that I never wanted to, you see, but this blog began as a sort of escape—a way for me to get away, so to speak, from the pain that I had been experiencing for quite a few years.

If you saw me walking down the street, or at work, or shopping at the mall, you’d probably never guess my story.  The past few years, though, have been… well, to put it mildly, hellish.


It all started back in 2009, with the outbreak of the swine flu.  Excuse me, H1N1.  If you’ve been around awhile, you know that I teach junior high—the perfect breeding ground for germs.  I was infected, of course, and started stumbling down this path that I’ve now been on for four years.

I was so sick from the flu that I was put on bed rest for two weeks. I could not get off of the couch. I couldn’t keep down water, let alone food. I came within inches of being hospitalized. It took months to recover.

Afterward, I discovered that my immune system had been destroyed.  I had little or no immunity to 11 of the 14 main strands of bacteria that cause common infections. My allergies had gone from moderate to life-threateningly severe, and now include dogs, mold, pollen, cats, shellfish, peanuts, and several fruits and vegetables.

In 2010, I got my first horrible sinus infection that couldn’t be cured by antibiotics. I was given IV antibiotics and steroids for a week to cure the infection.  In early 2011, it happened again. I had surgery to cure that, only to find out later that year that I had basal cell carcinoma—skin cancer.

Last year, 2012, I found out I had severe chronic anemia.  My hemoglobin level was at a 7—if it gets to a 5… you can die.  I was put in the hospital for six Saturdays in a row, for IV iron infusions.

As I sit here typing, I am going through another round of IV antibiotic treatments for an infection that I’ve been suffering from for close to two months now. I’m looking at another surgery to fix these never-ending problems.


Why do I tell you all this?

Not to make you feel sorry for me—that is the last thing on my mind. I’m a normal person, really, just like everyone else.  You’d never guess that I struggle every single day, and that some days, I just want to give up and cry. I don’t want your sympathy though.


I tell you this to make you realize that everyone in the world has a story like mine, whether its illness, or loss, or financial woes—everyone’s got something.  Just in the last week on my Facebook, I’ve seen friends suddenly lose a niece, a brother, and a best friend.  I’ve seen people go on their 5th job interview in the past month.  I’ve seen everyone post something. So by “choosing to be nice,” it’s a lot easier on all of us.  We’ve got to give each other a break.


I wore my “Choose to Be Nice” t-shirt in public a few weeks ago, and thought about what I was experiencing as I wore it.  You know what? I’m so guilty of it too.  More than once, I could have taken the nasty way out, and made a sarcastic remark with an eyeroll.  It’s become part of our culture somehow.  But with that logo emblazoned upon my chest, it was a reminder to take the high road—and after a few hours, I didn’t even think about it anymore. It WAS easier to be nice.


And you know what? It made ME happier in the process.  It’s so much easier and healthier to share a kind word or a smile.  To give an empathetic look, rather than a sneer.

I found myself in line behind a young mother at Wal-mart the other day, who had carefully counted out every penny she was spending.  She had to make several different transactions to use the various funds she was allocated from WIC and welfare and the little cash she had.  I could see her cheeks flushed red, and I could feel her embarrassment.  I squeezed my husband’s hand tightly and felt a lump in my throat. We might be tempted to get annoyed in a situation like that.  But when we choose to feel empathy for that person, we can’t help but feel touched by her situation.

When the young mother had gathered her groceries and left, the cashier said to me, “I’m really sorry about that.”

I was taken aback. Have we really come to that? That we have to apologize for giving extra time to those who need it?

I certainly hope not.

I, for one, choose to think differently.  I choose to be nice.


Visit Choose to Be Nice on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also contribute to their Kickstarter campaign here.  Get your own Choose to Be Nice gear at their website.


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