The Friendship Café
Where Best Friends Learn How to Become Great Friends




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Nice People Are Often Not Good  People and

Good People Are Often Not Nice People

We live in a culture in which being a nice person is considered tantamount to being a good person. The result is that many nice people are mistaken for fine human beings, when, in fact, they haven’t earned this distinction due to their serious character defects.

On the other hand, many really good people are mistaken for having serious character defects just because they aren’t the nicest people around. So what makes a good person? “A good head and a good heart,” Nelson Mandela reminded us, “are always a formidable combination.”

No doubt at times it’s hard for a lot of us to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys. We have a hard time determining who are great friends and who are not-so-good friends. Sometimes knowing can help us separate friends and acquaintances.

A friend of mine, for instance, is not the nicest person in the eyes of his friends and acquaintances. He is direct and often upsets others by telling the truth about events, people, and things.

Yet my best friend is one of the most generous individuals when it comes to giving money or other help to friends, panhandlers, and others in need. Contrast this with many so-called nice people who seldom go out of their way to help other individuals — particularly those in need.

The reality that nice people often are not good people and good people often are not nice people is a major disconnect for many of us. We want everyone to be nice because this is a lot easier to take than having people be direct, rude, or angry with us.

Fact is, niceness is a facade that many individuals lacking exemplary character use for ulterior motives. Some of the nicest-appearing people are desperate for affection from others. Certain psychiatrists and psychologists claim that behind the nice-guy facade there usually lurks considerable repressed anger — waiting to be transformed into despicable acts against others.

The core of the matter is that we have to be on guard with many nice people. We can allow them to get by on charisma for only so long. After that, they better show some endearing character traits.

Clearly, many people are nice so that they can distract us to take advantage of us. They will try to get in front of us in a lineup or entice us into the biggest scam the world has ever seen.

People seeking to con others out of money or anything else invariably project themselves as a model of virtue. Your making a snap decision about their character based on their niceness can lead to serious consequences and disillusionment later on.

At the extreme you may find nice people who steal from senior citizens, commit sex crimes, or murder their relatives — not exactly the epitome of sterling character. How often have you heard others declare, “He seemed so nice all the time,” when describing someone who has just assaulted, or even killed, someone?

Good people, on the other hand, are not nice all the time. In his renowned study of self-actualized individuals, researcher and humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow found that people at the highest level of psychological development aren’t the most pleasant humans whom you will encounter. Contrary to expectations, self-actualized people aren’t calm individuals. Indeed, temper outbursts are common.

Unlike nice people, self-actualized human beings can be constructively critical of others when the need is there. Because they don’t pretend to be something they aren’t, these good people aren’t pleasing to everyone all of the time. Although they are generally very tolerant of others, self-actualized individuals are likely to create a big scene when people engage in insincerity, dishonesty, or stupidity.

If you want to surround yourself with great friends who possess great character, who will support you in making a difference in this world, don’t overlook the good people just because they aren’t nice all the time.

Many good people have insecurities; they get angry and they may even get dejected about life. You will have to put up with their occasional anger, impatience, and disgust because they will not tolerate lying, cheating, inconsideration, or hypocrisy. Nonetheless, their honesty, sincerity, decency, goodness, wisdom, and consideration will make you realize that you are in great company. 


Everyone in This World — Including You

and Me — Is Selfish

As is to be expected, a large majority of individuals on this planet see themselves as a lot less selfish than the average individual including many of their friends. Upon close scrutiny, however, this doesn’t make much sense. Provided it was possible to measure selfishness, about half of the people would be more selfish than the average person, and about half of the people would be less selfish.

The point is, it is impossible for a large majority to be less selfish than the average person. There is no need to measure selfishness, however. Truth be known, everyone in this world — including you and me — is selfish.

Some people may have some difficulty with the idea that they are just as selfish as everyone else on this planet. We like to think there are selfless and selfish people on the two extremes. A lot of us would like others to think of us as being selfless instead of selfish. What’s more, most of us — out of our own selfishness, I might add — would also like others to be less selfish.

Have you ever noticed that certain people will call you selfish, not for pursuing your own good, but for neglecting something that they want from you? There is a major disconnect here. The question is: Whenever they are calling you selfish in an attempt to get something from you, what is motivating them?

Obviously, their motivation is none other than their own selfishness. Oscar Wilde articulated this point much more eloquently than I ever could with his classic statement: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

Contrary to popular wisdom, whenever we do things for others, we are motivated by our selfishness. Some unknown wise person once defined altruism as “the art of doing unselfish things for selfish reasons.” Put another way, we all are generous in a self-serving way.

For instance, I donate money to charities and the food bank out of selfishness and not selflessness. I make these donations because I want the world to work better. What’s more, I feel good about giving to others. I am driven by my selfishness to have the world work better in the long term, at the expense of having less money for myself. There is absolutely nothing selfless about my generosity.

We can turn to the dictionary definitions of “selfish” and “selfless” to put this issue in proper perspective. “Selfless” is commonly defined as “Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself.”

Clearly, based on this definition, no one with a sane mind is selfless. Having no concern for oneself is a sign of severe mental illness — or rigor mortis. If we were selfless, we wouldn’t snap up that great deal on the apartment or car or an item of clothing. We would say, “There are undoubtedly millions of people who need this more than I do. Since I am so caring and unselfish, I better leave it for one of them.”

In the same vein, dictionaries commonly define “selfish” as “Concerned chiefly or only with oneself.” Thus, everyone of sane mind on this planet must be selfish. The core of the matter is that, on some level or another, we are all concerned chiefly with ourselves.

When we do things for others, we are ultimately doing those things for ourselves. Our motivation for performing good deeds for others can be to avoid guilt, to feel good about ourselves, to have others like us more, to make the world work better, or to get to Heaven.

Now don’t freak out. Your selfishness is neither bad nor good. Accept it for what it is. Ensure that your selfishness is sensible and not irrational, however. Operating with the attitude “This is my world. This is all about me, myself, and I” will probably manifest itself as irrational selfishness when most people end up avoiding you.

In contrast, out of sensible selfishness, you can be kind, gentle, charitable, and considerate. Being a Good Samaritan will have a positive effect on your well-being. You will feel good about yourself, people of good character will want to be your friends, and the world will work better in the end. Best of all, you will likely wind up in Heaven. 

Friendship Book - 101 Really Important Things

Note: These three friendship articles are excerpted from the book101 Really Important Things You Already Know But Keep Forgettingby Ernie J. Zelinski


When Someone — Including a Best Friend —

Fails to Keep a Commitment, There Is a 95

Percent Chance That It Will Happen Again

A scorpion, who wants to get across a pond, spots a friendly frog. The scorpion says to the frog, “How about a lift to the other side of the pond? I can’t swim and I would appreciate your helping me out.”

The frog replies, “No way. I know what scorpions are like. You promised not to sting me one time in the past when I gave you a lift. Yet you didn’t keep your commitment and stung me. I almost died. This time you’ll probably sting me halfway across the pond, from where I won’t be able to swim to shore. I don’t want to drown.”

The scorpion counters, “Don’t be silly. If I am on your back, I am dependent on you to get across the pond. If I sting you, I will drown too. Why would I want to do that?” The frog thinks a bit and relents: “I guess you’re right. Hop on.”

The scorpion climbs on the frog’s back and they take off for the other side of the pond. Halfway across, the scorpion gives the frog a big whopper of a sting. As both of them start to go under, the frog says to the scorpion, “Why in the world did you do that? Why didn’t you keep your commitment not to sting me? Now both of us are going to die.”

The scorpion’s answer is one you have heard many times before from human scorpions: “I couldn’t resist it. It’s just my nature to be that way.”

The lesson here is that if someone has failed to keep a commitment with you in the past, there is a 95 percent chance that he or she will fail to keep a commitment with you again in the future. This is a hard lesson for most of us to learn. In fact, many of us keep relearning this lesson throughout our entire lives, while experiencing a lot of frustration and disappointment.

You will notice that people who back out of business deals or social commitments tend to do it again and again and again. This behavior is best explained by two phenomena previously discussed — people are only human and people seldom change.

Human nature is such that even if people have apologized for a past transgression, and promised that they wouldn’t do it again, they will likely do it again. You have to decide what is the best way to respond to people who don’t keep commitments.

Incidentally, the 95 percent chance that they will do it again applies even when they have offered an apology without your asking for one. When you have demanded an apology, and they have complied, then there is a 99 percent chance they will do it again. These are roughly the same odds as when they haven’t apologized.

The reason is that an apology demanded under some threat — such as you will terminate your friendship or business relationship if they don’t apologize — is a form of blackmail. Put another way, an apology demanded from another person using some form of threat is never a true apology.

The person may apologize for the transgression — but the apology is false. Fact is, a true apology — one that means something and comes from the heart — is made by a person without anyone else demanding it.

Personally, I refrain from dealing with people who regularly cop out of business or social commitments — whether or not they apologize. I don’t need the hassles and aggravation. Whenever people continue to fail to show up for meetings, I don’t contact them again.

If they call to apologize with a good reason, I give them one more chance, and possibly two chances — but three strikes and they are out. By following this principle, without any exceptions, I end up with a few quality people who are good at keeping commitments.

In short, if a person has let you down before, be on guard when he tells you he will come through on another occasion. Whether it’s a business deal or a social engagement, no matter how enticing and promising, it’s best to focus your interests elsewhere. Otherwise, you will find out the hard way that the first transgression was no accident.

In fact, if you hang around him long enough, chances are fairly high that he will outdo his previous transgression with something so much worse that it makes the previous one seem insignificant. As the old saying goes, “The person who steals an egg from his farmer friend will eventually steal the chicken as well.” 

Check out the funny friendship quotes and friendship proverbs as well as the importance of friendship

ALL ARTICLES COPYRIGHT © 2011 by Ernie J. Zelinski

Friendship Book for Retirees

Author of The World's Best Retirement Book 
All Rights Reserved




Top-10 List of Best Things Ever Said about Friendship

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a
— Plautus

Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.
— Sicilian Proverb

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be
stupid with them.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

On the road between homes of friends, grass does not grow.
— Norwegian proverb

If I don't have friends, then I ain't nothing.
— Billie Holiday

Friendship is like money, easier made than kept.
— Samuel Butler 

To be rich in friends — is to be poor in nothing.
— Anon

A mere friend will agree with you, but a real friend will argue.
— Russian Proverb

Make new friends but cherish the old ones.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

A loyal best friend is someone who sticks up for you even when you're not there.
— Anon

Best Friends
Great Friends Rock
Advice Between Best Friends
Friendship Poems
Old Friends
New Friends
True Friends
Importance of Friendship
Rules of Friendship
Funny Friendship Quotes
What Makes a Good Friend
Friendship Articles
Choosing Best Friends
Friendship Advice
Friendship Sayings
Friendship Proverbs
How to Make Friends
Friends and Money
101 Ways to Have Great Friends
Friends Heaven Sent
Friends vs Acquaintances
Friends vs Enemies
Quantity vs Quality
Friendship Resources
Definition of Friendship
Short Friendship Poems
Fun Things to Do with Friends