Nobody sets out in life wanting to be a mean person, as it isn't human nature to be mean. As children, we go out of our way to be nice to our friends, family and everyone around us. As we get older and experience what life has to offer, many of us allow our ability to be nice to slowly but surely erode until we're bitter and angry shells of the amazing person we used to be.
It isn't a conscious decision. People don't wake up one day and say, "Screw this! I'm going to stop being nice to people!" It's more a gradual dissipation of our manners, our propensity to saying kind words and our ability to stay positive in the face of diversity. The good news is this is a learned behavior and it can be unlearned. It won't be easy, as it's going to take a conscious effort to be nice until it becomes habit, but there are a handful of tricks you can use to help yourself along the way.
Be Nice to Yourself
People who have a negative self-image are more likely to reflect the way they feel about themselves onto others. If you don't like the person you've become, it's going to be very difficult for you to like anyone else. Those with deep-seated self-loathing should seek counseling, while the rest of us can try waking up every morning and saying something positive to the person we see in the mirror. Don't just think it. Say it out loud and keep saying it every morning until you start believing it.
Positive self-talk leads to positive feelings. Reaffirm what a good person you are constantly an you'll eventually start feeling like a nicer person.
Monitor Your Inner Voice
We all have that inner voice that pipes in at the most inopportune of times to let us know anything and everything that's wrong with a situation. While most people let that voice run roughshod and give it free reign to say whatever it wants and plant seeds of doubt everywhere, it's important to realize that the inner voice you're hearing is you.
It's going to take a conscious effort at first, but you need to start monitoring the things your inner voice is telling you and controlling whether or not it's a positive influence. Instead of thinking about everything that's wrong, start thinking about everything that's right. The good outweighs the bad in most situations and learning to control your inner voice is a big step in the right direction when it comes to controlling your outer voice.
Help People in Need
Be on the lookout for ways you can help others. Instead of ignoring that old lady stranded on the side of the road, pull over and ask if she needs to use your cell phone or if she needs a ride to the nearest gas station. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen, offer to carry someone's heavy bag, donate time and/or money to a cause you believe in.
Nice people help those around them. It's just what they do. There are many opportunities to help people that are passing you by every day. Make a conscious effort to identify those opportunities and to take advantage of them when they present themselves.
It's the Little Things that Count
A kind word here and there really add up over the long run. Make it your goal to say something nice to someone you know each and every day. Compliment the way a person looks, thank them for something they've done, let someone know you really appreciate the things they do for you or for others. Kind words go a long way and something small you say can really make or break someone else's day.
I recently read a story about a woman who was on her way to the Golden Gate bridge to commit suicide. On the bus ride there, a man she didn't know smiled at her and said something nice to her in passing. The nice comment stuck in her head and she decided maybe things weren't that bad after all. Would she have jumped off the bridge had the man not smiled and said a kind word? We'll never know, but nice to think someone's kind words made all the difference in this woman's life.
Treat every situation like you could be that guy. You'll never know if your kind words or smiles save a life, but they're free to hand out and they definitely aren't going to hurt anyone.
Fake It Until You Make It
You've spent an entire lifetime becoming the person you are and aren't going to be able to undo it in a day or two. If you've allowed yourself to become a negative person, it's going to take a conscious effort on your part to be a nicer person. It's going to feel forced at first and you're really going to have to monitor your actions, but keep at it and one day you'll wake up and realize you've actually become a nicer person.