I've built my career on being nice. The type of person who goes above and beyond in every single way possible, even if it is to the personal detriment of myself.
A few years ago I was given a gift, from a very wise and majestic woman, a gift that would stay with my soul forever - that gift was kindness. I will never forget the lessons she taught me. Sat in her old beaten up chair in a small, trinket packed living room in one of the most religious countries in the world. But despite being a young gay man sat in front of a wise and devout catholic - our souls met. The olive branches of our shared empathy and compassion led to a deeper meeting of minds.
Kindness is a universal language, one that transcends war, hostility, poverty, bereavement and any number of painful doings in this world. Kindness is now the only language I speak, despite living in a world filled with people blowing themselves up at a concert filled full of children.
And that's where the challenge lies. Keeping true to your inner self and integrity, in times of hardship or pain, can be the biggest personal battle anyone can face. How can you continue to be kind to somebody who takes so much? Who, through their own personal beliefs does their very best to bring havoc and chaos to your equilibrium.
Kindness is about being centred at all times, something which even the most placid of people find difficult in challenging situations. But for me, despite all my personal woes - I operate with kindness at my core.
Being 'not-nice' has never sat well with me. Much like when you get a gut feeling that something is overwhelmingly wrong with a situation but you can't quite put your finger on.
I learnt a long time ago not to welcome resentment or 'love-poverty' into my life. It was the saying "when poverty walks in, love walks out" that stays with me every single day. Because love, compassion and kindness are the three most important lessons we should all live by.
Whenever I am in a situation which makes me lose my spiritual balance, I assess whether I have dealt with the situation in a nice way. Have I cleaned my side of the street?
I learnt these lessons the hard way; upsetting friends and family, causing undue pain to others because of my selfish and un-kind actions, doing something which personally benefitted myself and not others.
Being nice may hurt you in the short term; financially, personally, mentally and spiritually but in the long run - karma will always prevail.
See, we can choose to live our life two ways; helping ourselves up, or helping others up first. You might not get to the top as quickly as you had hoped by not climbing on others to get there, but when the struggle to the top gets harder, it's those very people above you, that are leaning down with a helping hand.
The further you climb, the further you have to fall - it's just a choice whether you surround yourself with people to catch you on your way down.