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  • Writer's pictureDayna Culwell

Being Nice vs. Being Real

Congratulations! You have learned about Ahimsa, the first and fundamental of the Yamas and Niyamas. I hope and expect that your heart was touched in some small way. This week we explore the meaning of Truthfulness which is Satya in Sanskrit. Satya concerns more than avoiding fibs. Satya asks us to be real rather than nice. It says we need to be able to express ourselves. Not doing so often leads to self indulgence. We explore the need to belong vs. the need to grow. I will share an example from my pharmaceutical days on how this greatly affected my inner peace. Satya also encourages us to “do it right the first time” in order to avoid going back and cleaning up our mess! Over committing is one example. Satya or truthfulness is fluid; what was true to us in our 20’s no longer seems true in our 60’s. I will share an example from my early days of yoga vs. nowadays on this fluidity. Finally, truthfulness has weight and power. Now you have peeked into Satya from a bird’s eye view. Let’s just start with one small piece of Satya. Stick around as we learn to understand what the sages meant by

“Be real rather than nice”.

When would being “nice” not be truthful? Could “being nice” ever actually be detrimental? God forbid, let’s say there is a mass shooting, and people are interviewed to describe the gunman, you may hear “He always seemed so nice”. “I never would have imagined him doing this”. Or, “He seemed nice, but he didn’t talk much”. In the book, The Yamas and the Niyamas, author Deborah Adele says,

“People who are nice hold truths inside until they reach a breaking point and then they become dangerously inappropriate.”

Honestly, in college, I recall it being hard to really get to know so many people. You were constantly surrounded by people when walking to class or eating lunch or attending one of quite a few parties. There were lots of “Hi, how are you doing?” “Great!” But the niceties only kept many friendships superficial. In social circles like the local Chamber of Commerce, or Bridge Club, etc. etc., how do you look at other attendees?

Taking this one step further, do you ever get reeled in to say “Yes” when you know you really mean “No” or “Hell no!”. What drives us to silence ourselves or distort ourselves in this scenario?

The many “hats” we wear

And then, there’s the ever changing hats we put on depending on whom we are around. We may be the dutiful taskmaster in one group, the free and easy in another, and so on. Have you ever thought about which hat you’d wear if all of these different people you know from different groups were in the same room at the same time with you? Author Adele says “My biggest fear is that everyone I know will be in the same room at the same time and I won’t know who to be!” Which hat do you wear when? How do your hats get affected when you’re around your weekend buddies vs. when you’re around your siblings vs. when you’re at work?

Do remember that truthfulness has weight and has power.

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