Despite my snark here, at my blog, I am, face-to-face, a very nice person. I wasn’t always. I was brittle, socially insecure, and verbally adept, a combination that resulted in my being extremely gifted at insults, some of which sounded like jokes, but none of which were.
For the past twenty-years, I have worked hard not to be that person. As a result, I’m happier — and the people who have contact with me are happier too.
Part of my decision to be a nicer person saw me borrow a page from Alcoholic’s Anonymous: Given the opportunity, I will always apologize to those who fell afoul of my sharp tongue all those years ago. So it was that, about five years ago, when I caught up with a co-worker whom I’d treated dismissively back in my bad old days, I immediately apologized to him. He, nicely, said, “Don’t worry. I didn’t even notice.”
Recently, I saw that same former co-worker again and, as he seemed rather sullen, I once again apologized. He, again, was gracious.
Why this story? Because I learned today that this same man has a violent temper. It’s not a situation over which I have any control, and my contact with him is not quite nonexistent, but almost so, so there’s nothing concrete I can do to change his behavior. All that I can do is be thankful that, should we cross paths again, I apologized to him. It is certainly better for me if he thinks well of me than if he thinks badly.
There is a lot to be said for being a nice person. There’s also a lot to be said, not just for remorse, which I view as feeling genuinely bad about past acts, but also for repentance, which I understand to mean doing what one can to make whole those whom you treated badly. If the bad treatment was bullying, you cannot travel to the past and un-bully that person, but you can make it clear that you were the problem and that you deeply regret your past actions.
Aside from being good for the soul, I suspect that in this case remorse and repentance just might be good for my body’s well-being too.