Nicer in 2017 | Moment's Notice

By Maria Montalvo | Jan 19, 2017

As I turned on to Ninth Avenue the other day, heading home after a long week, the announcer on KUOW invited listeners to participate in the Ads for Nicer Living contest. Just like the original challenge in 1972, winners do not get a prize, and there are “few requirements” to enter

Just 120 words about what makes life better.

The simplicity of that thought made me smile – and feel nicer. Our 45th president is being inaugurated on Friday, Jan. 20. This is definitely a week of anticipation – expectation characterized by hope or worry or anger or cheer, depending on your point of view. Studies have shown that the stress of the election cycle last year affected children and adults alike, impacting grades in school, performance at work, and even levels of depression.

We can use some inspiration to be nicer to each other, and to ourselves.

What helps us to be nicer? To feel nice?

Smiles, music, rainbows. A great meal. Blue skies. The perfect martini. A cappuccino. A swing in a hammock.

What about a hike in the Olympics? Going to dinner with friends, or meeting for an unexpected gathering after work? Listening to the strong opinions of a 9-year old? Throwing a Frisbee to your enthusiastic dog? Reading a book in front of a fire on a chilly evening or with your cat curled up by your side? Growing herbs or vegetables in the garden?

Perhaps something more interactive and unforeseen?

Opening or having someone hold the door. Helping someone up after a fall or, in my case, someone helping me after I tripped in the airport (he laughed first but did help me up). The Beacon recently featured a woman who came to the rescue of someone stranded on the railroad tracks in downtown Edmonds (and yes, a train was coming).

The Edmonds Kind of Day Facebook page lists an endless menu of ways to make your life a little brighter here at home. Edmonds Community College students were named “world’s nicest students” by a volunteer professor this summer. Edmonds Center for the Arts hosts school kids throughout the year to experience music and dance, opening their eyes to things they might not have thought existed or possible.

Volunteers have worked hard to raise funds for the Edmonds Veterans Plaza to recognize those who have served, but also to invite community members to gather in a more beautiful space and learn from each other. The Edmonds Senior Center provides emergency weather shelter to the homeless, and several local food banks are busier than they should be, but always rise to the challenge.

Seeing others making the world a better place, or contributing to that effort yourself, physiologically makes us feel better, releasing a serotonin boost into our systems. Whatever your motivation, 2017 is a good year to be nicer, if for no other reason than it is better to have more people in your life who are giving and caring, than fewer.

Now I just need to find one thing to highlight in my 120 words toward Nicer Living (thanks, NPR).


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