Good vs Nice


Sophia Yee, Writer

She watched Gillian from a distance, watching, observing. Her eyes became stuck to the back of such a peculiar human being, as he ran through his day to day life as though his neck extended to the clouds above, his eyes seemingly carrying a flower garden within his dirt colored pupils. Her feet glided across the floor while her body followed his shadow, her mouth begging to release some sort of comforting remark. She even noticed how he smiled so warmly where his cheeks extended to his eyes, never second guessing a kind comment or caring gesture. Somehow, in the chances that a crude person happens to stumble upon his helping hand, refusing his kind demeanor, his arms will continue to welcome them with a homely embrace. 

Despite his comfort in doing so, the little girl trailing behind became enraged by his persistence to practically shape-shift into a doormat. “Why? Why did you do that?” She marched out of the shadows with a dark scowl plastered on her face. 

“Do what?” Gillian stood in place, shocked at her sudden presence. 

“Be so nice to horrible people.”

He shrugged, “I don’t know, I just do it.” 

“You shouldn’t do it anymore then.”

His smile returned to his face, “Now, that wouldn’t be very nice.”

“Oh stop pretending you’re such a good person, you must hate them too.” She crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows while she spoke in a mocking tone. Her mind could not quite comprehend the mindset of the person who stood in front of her. 

“I am a good person, I believe that I am not only nice but I am good, really good.” He stepped forward, towering over the girl. “That’s how I am able to live and thrive in this miserable society we have nurtured.”

“What even is the difference between being nice and good?”

He laughed, bringing his hand up to their mouth to cover their smile, “You’ll find out eventually.” 

The girl stood in silence, lost in thought for the first time in her life. Her body trembled in excitement at the question. “What is the difference?” 

Many people struggle to find the difference between good and nice, and for some, the definition of that difference varies from their peers. Being good versus being nice has been a highly debated topic for a long period of time due to its complexity. However, there is typically one underlying agreement between all; being good takes more than simply being nice. 

According to Jonathan Decker, a licensed therapist, “There is a difference between niceness and goodness, goodness is for its own sake. Again, referencing the book I am reading ‘made for goodness’ is that we- we’re good not because we want to be accepted or loved but because giving love is our greatest joy.” To him, goodness is love, it is compassion, and more importantly it is the compassion we show to other people with no desire for a prize. A beautiful type of love that has no boundaries and is given blind. A common example of this goodness being, having a crush on someone, but still being pleasant and respectful to them, refusing to push their boundaries through care for that person and doing so without expecting them to reciprocate. Good, in this point of view, is shown to be superior to being nice. Now, also stated by Jonathan Decker to explain the difference between nice and good, “Nice is built on transaction, it is built on appearance, it’s built on I want something so this is how I’m going to get it. I am going to play a part. Good is, this is who I want to be.” Additionally supported by Carl, “Being a nice person is being kind to someone for social status- and not actually because you care about them.” Social status, in this mindset, is the entirety of what being nice is for, to seem like a good person on the outside. A shallow sense of kindness.

However, as stated before, others may disagree with this view point. Another mindset being, good and nice can hold hands. “I think good is someone’s overall well being, while nice is more like the action of doing something kind.” As claimed by a Tahoma High School Student. Very different from the previous mindset with good ruling over being nice. In this particular mindset, they believe that people can be both nice and good but not every nice person is good. The thought that being nice is to care for others while being good is to take one more step to make caring part of their second nature. 

Under a personal lens, similar to the first mindset, my definition of good vs nice is dependent on how often and when a person will do good deeds. For example, a nice person might hold the door open for people and typically follow through with kind actions while eyes are on them, they still find joy in doing good things but they are more willing to do good things while people are around to give them credit for whatever they chose to do. Whereas a good person will do good things even if they get appreciation for what they have done, they will simply do good things because they want to, because it is in their morals to.

 Either way, both people care about others, and the difference between them is miniscule with a humongous impact. Each small, tiny, act of kindness caused by either a good or nice person can stack together to make a positive change in society itself. Every single person matters, every single thing and action a person does matters in the grand scheme of the world. If everyone was to come together and chose to become good, not only nice- then perhaps the world we reside in would become prettier. 

So, next time you are to ponder about psychological questions, give this one a shot. “Am I a good or nice person?”