Is Kindness the Next Big Thing?

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I know this post really has nothing to do with skiing, but I love this photo anyway.

Is niceness a new trend? I see those “Bark Less, Wag More” bumpers stickers all the time, and wonder if we’ve arrived at the Next Big Thing. Maybe this Niceness trend is the new Yoga–pretty soon we’ll see a whole culture wrapped up in Doing Unto Others–complete with a clothing phenomenon, local classes, gurus and retreat centers dedicated entirely to Shaping Your Kindness.

But being Nice isn’t anything new, in fact it’s campy enough and old-fashioned enough to be overlooked as the new rage. And yet it seems to be gaining ground. Last weekend, when I saw a “Hiss Less, Purr More” bumper sticker on a Subaru in C Lot at Crystal Mountain, I figured I might as well get on board.

Every decade has its desire for people to be nice. Not so long ago, it was common, and maybe a little groovy, to tell people to “Stop being so tense, Man”. When I was a teenager, we told our parents to “Just chill out,” and later to simply “Chill.” People have told to “Stay mellow,” have wondered “What would Jesus do?”, have admonished others when they didn’t “Relax,” and promised to adhere to the Golden Rule. Perhaps this is just our latest iteration.

But a fellow blogger, Lorraine Wilde, recently pointed out some new research about nice genes. According to researchers at UC Irvine and University of Buffalo, some people actually carry more receptor genes for oxytocin and vasopressin–hormones that, in a very non-scientific way of looking at it, make us nicer people. It’s fascinating research really. So, maybe kindness is hereditary, maybe the desire to make casseroles for others during tragedy actually runs in some people’s bloodstream, like vodka, only permanent.

If that’s true, then maybe this is evolution. Perhaps the universe is telling us that kindness is the present-day equivalent of strength. Being nice to others (in person, not just on Facebook) is going to be the new measure of character. I can just see the line of clothes that will accompany this new trend. Shirts will have extra pockets to carry Kleenex packets, and Tupperware is going to come out with a whole new line of containers–ones big enough to carry an entire lasagna that can be left in the freezer, defrosted and baked all in the same pan, then recycled!

Kindness might even be a new resume builder. Young people are going to start calling on their elders, checking in at nursing homes and engaging in card games like bridge and gin rummy just to score points for their Ivy League Applications. Maybe teenagers should start logging in those hours now, because those College Counselors are pretty strict when it comes to fact checking.

I suppose we should all embrace this new evolution of our species. Niceness is in. And if you don’t have the genes, you might want to start thinking of ways to fit into this new phenomenon. It isn’t that painful, really. Just reach out and “touch someone” as they say.

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7 responses »

  1. “Like vodka, only permanent.” Priceless.

    I love your exploration of what this might mean for us evolutionarily and culturally. What a great way to use peer pressure for good! Definitely need to encourage everyone to give it a try, especially on random internet comments, Thanks for the mention. Even without testing, I can tell you’ve got the nice gene in spades!

  2. All you have to do is look at the character, Chris, on the hit TV show “Parks and Recreation” for the embodiment of everything you’ve written here. He is uber positive and always kind (mixed in with all the current (resurgent) health trends like drinking coconut water, meditating and tapping into your feng shui. If kindness is going to be the next big thing, I hope it doesn’t fade when it has had a good run to start with. We’re way better off with Kindness (and it’s too bad we have to make a trend of it to make it happen!).

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