Being nice pays so many dividends -- it makes others happy, it makes you happy, it helps us move forward, it helps us live with ourselves. It's infectious.
So why are so many people assholes? Why do people demean others, hurt each other, go out of their way to cause trouble? Be vindictive? Petty? Mean?
Because being nice requires more energy. It's harder to put on a happy face when you're not feeling happy. It's easier to wave your hand dismissively or give someone a middle finger and say no. It's harder to get out of your comfortable chair and help. It's easier to be selfish. It's harder to think about how your actions will affect the world.
Robert Kennedy famously said on the night Martin Luther King was murdered: "What we need... is not violence and lawlessness, but love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer..."
After centuries of slavery and injustice, America could have descended into decades of anarchy after that fateful day and it would have been easy to do because hurting and anger are easy -- even if they're justified. But King -- and Kennedy and in our time the Dalai Lama and Mandela -- taught folks that while being nice is harder, being understanding takes effort, being thoughtful requires thinking, they do overcome the bad.
Because the bad only tears down while the good, the nice, the kind, always build up.
And we should all be builders.