I started reading the Happiness Project this week. I'm not far into it yet, only onto the February chapter, but already I'm hooked with the idea of a Franklin Virtue Chart. One thing that has really stuck is that section on Secrets of Adulthood, where she says to be nice to everyone.
For some reason this one hit me smack in the forehead. I mean, I'm nice. I think I'm nice. I try to be nice. But I know I'm not nice to everyone. There are just those people that seem to make it impossible to be nice too. Take for example my mother-in-law, Mrs. Swan. I bought really nice plastic shelf liner for the new kitchen cabinets thinking that I was doing something nice and helpful for the kitchen remodel. And then she informed me with this condescending tone that "Brian said we didn't need to use shelf paper". It took every once of will to keep myself from nocking her teeth out with one of the rolls of shelf paper. And the whole thing bothered me. All week. That one incident pulled up all other memories of nice things I've done for her that she has pooped on. And I let it fester. I let it get to me.
The thing is I should know better and I need to change my view on how I approach Mrs. Swan. Those things I did, I did because I thought it would be nice. I thought I was doing a good thing. But I was expecting some sort of praise or gold star for my efforts. It was like giving a gift in hopes that I would get a really great gift in return and we all know that's not the reason to give gifts.
The truth is, I don't know how to be nice to Mrs. Swan. I can be polite and pleasant and continue doing my normal things around the house that I like to think she appreciates (who do you think scrubs her footprints off the side of the tub?). But I can stop doing them for her, because I know, deep down, it's really for me.
And I'm OK with this.