In a recent Christian science Monitor blog James Norton referred to research done at Michigan State University. It suggests that nice guys make us all winners. It even suggests that being nice is a winning strategy even if you don’t finish. What has been your experience?
We are all aware of the old adage nice guys finish last however if we think about it for a minute being nice is probably a better strategy than trying to win at all costs. Only one can come in first. We all know there are risks in running the race. We might need help along the way. Who is apt to get the help the nice guy or the greedy guy?
I recently noticed this on the city bus. As I got on with my white cane a woman said, “to your right”.
A little girl said, “right here”, tapping the seat next to her. As I sat down next to her I noticed how contented she was. Her mother settled their fare and join her on the seat. This preschooler seem very happy and contented. Her mother did not need to entertain her. The girl had ribbons and curls in her hair. Yet, her shoes lacked laces.
This nice little girl lives in a nice world. By some standards the world was nice to her, but obviously there were material things she lacked. Was she a winner or a loser?
Looking at the girl I think she felt like a winner. I see many other children her age who are always needing attention. They whine, and keep moving around on the seats and require the attention of an adult. This little girl seemed very contented in her own little world. In our materialistic and competitive world I doubt anyone will ever consider her to really be in the race. However, I doubt she will ever feel deprived for long.
In college I played in the band. To promote the University we would take a bus tour during spring break. We would sleep in the homes of high school students where we were performing. I remember one warm and friendly home in particular. They seem to be one of the poorer homes but one that I felt more comfortable with than most. I was raised in an upper middle class suburban family. Yet this family, which obviously didn’t have the education or opportunities that I had enjoyed, enjoyed great love. This was something my parents also strived for.
The researchers at Michigan State University were considering evolutionary biology. They had concluded that niceness in the forms of cooperation and forgiveness helped individuals and communities survive. Personal greed and self-interest leaves the individual vulnerable to those groups that can organize themselves.
We all remember the childhood game of King of the Hill. Everyone strives to be the king and keep everybody else off the hill. Soon two or more attack at the same time. This overwhelms the king. If the new Kings cooperate they are much less vulnerable to the next round of attack. If however it was just coincidence, then they start fighting among themselves, and the cycle continues.
So would you rather be the king or a nice guy?
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
coach Dr. Dave
author of the forthcoming book, “recipes for lemonade (Thriving through disability): Dr. Dave’s personal recipe”