I engaged in the day of being “nice, useful, and true” on Monday, October 22. After reading the instructions, I thought, “wow, this will be so easy since I am always so nice and sincere.” I thought it would be easy to be consistent and that little of my day or schedule would differ. I was surprised though, because my behavior actually changed rather drastically during the project.
On a normal day, upon post facto reflection, I think I am probably quite rude. Although I am not a bully, I do tell people the truth with a bit too much gusto, and I often just say what comes to mind, even if it is not particularly useful to the other person. But I had thought while reading the assignment, “wow this is easy; all I have to do is to be myself.” Well, I was wrong. As I read the iExamen instructions, they state that we have to be “nice”. While I initially thought it would be easy (I fancy myself a “nice” person), it was a big shock for me because when I was thinking about it in the moment (“am I being nice right now?”), it turns out that it is quite difficult for me to be nice – especially for a whole day! So this was a challenge for me, but I love challenges. So, it was an adventure for me to test myself, to be conscious of how I’m reacting to and treating others, and then to notice a stark difference from my typical habits.
As I left my room to go to my first class a bit before 9.00 AM, I walked across the bridge towards my Spanish classroom. I realized since the test required being nice and truthful for a full day, I should start as I walked outside. Therefore, I decided to smile and say “Hello” to the group of people that passed me. Perhaps saying “hello” does not quite fit the definition of truthful, but it’s authentic behavior within our Western culture. I got a smile and sometimes a wave back. Sometimes people would nod and look a bit quizzical or skeptical (perhaps they could tell I was not being completely natural?) But, all in all, for some reason, there was this feeling inside of me that I have never felt before. It felt like it was a shot of adrenaline running through my body. Perhaps I was more vital?
Then, as I was in class, I smiled at many of the students that sit around me and asked them how they enjoyed their fall breaks. They were all happy that I asked them, and I received many smiles from them. Just receiving a smile from a random student makes a person happy inside. (Is being happy “useful”?) I thought to myself “I hope I am doing this project correctly since I am being nice.” Then I remembered that I also ought to be truthful to people. Therefore, since I am somewhat gregarious, I decided to speak with students on campus that I have never talked to before. I sat with them in lunch and tried sincerely to have a meaningful conversation with them. As I was speaking to the students, I was thinking to myself to not be mean but still truthful. I decided to be truthful in a different way than I normally am (blunt, somewhat sarcastic, and straight to the point). I decided to be honest but to compliment the person so they do not think that I am being rude. As I was speaking to one of the students, they asked me “Do you think this girl likes me?” Before answering “no, you also do not have a chance with her because you never speak to her,” I decided to be nice, while also being truthful, with a touch of utility, so I told him to try and talk to her while we wait in line for our food.
This may seem like a simple test, but if you do it correctly, it can be life-changing. It was definitely a challenging experience, but I passed it by donning a different mindset and being conscious of my attitude. Changing your character in one day is a challenge that I experienced in a positive way. Not only did I feel nice, but I was on the way to making some new friends. I definitely value being truthful with people, because I feel like lying is worse. But instead of being mean and truthful, I decided to rethink what I was about to say to people and keep the usefulness in the front of my mind, tempered with some compassion. This made me happy, and I got more favorable reactions from those with whom I interacted. I’ve noticed that I get more waves and greetings walking to class, and that makes a person very happy. This test helped me to see that I can shape which aspects of my personality are at the front, and I am happy that I followed the directions correctly. Knowing that I can be nice and useful, while still be truthful, has put me in a good mood, and I think I am more sociable with many students on campus.