“You’re too nice” –– one of the most common phrases I have heard throughout my life with “you smile too much” following close behind.

Those phrases have been etched into me over and over again. They led me to think that my kindness was a weakness. I was taught to believe I was defenseless because of my heart, and that I wouldn’t go far because my compassion would lead to my downfall.

Because of the constant reinforcement that I was “too nice,” I one day decided everyone was right. So, I put up my defenses. I swore to myself that I was done with second chances and that I wouldn’t smile at everyone that passed by. I swore to become the girl everyone else wanted me to be.

But you see, that was the world talking, and I soon realized that my kindness was not a weakness but a strength.

Kindness is often misconstrued as a delicate character trait that doesn’t meet the world’s standards. It’s seen as a characteristic that leads to getting stepped on and mistreated. We are trained to think this way about kindness because of what the world feeds us. We are given novels, films and television shows that depict cruel individuals who are represented as the epitome of greatness. This can be seen in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” for instance.

The film depicts a prestigious, high-end fashion editor who has all of the success in the world. But did kindness get her there? With remarks such as, “Please bore someone else with your questions,” and, “You have no sense of style or fashion,” it is evident that the answer is no. Yet, she is revered as a victorious and triumphant woman who has achieved the highest luxuries in life.

Of course, we all want to be successful and seen as top-tier individuals, but when being cold is illustrated as the central way of achieving that goal, kindness is shoved in the corner. When we give way to this mentality, we are forced into believing the world’s false accusations –– but we can rewrite this narrative.

We don’t have to put on an abrasive face and speak bleak words to get where we want to be, and kindness does not have to be viewed as a character flaw. Instead, we can value kindness as a top priority and understand what it truly is –– an influential power.

But how is kindness an influential power? Through its effects and chain reactions.

Kindness is beyond any imaginable strength, and this is seen in a video by A Better World. In the video, kindness is seen coloring a dark world one act at a time. A boy shares his apple with the girl sitting next to him; a man helps a fellow passenger load her bag in the upper plane compartment; a woman helps a nearby mother with her crying baby.

With each simple act, color is added to the black and white short-film until the entire screen bursts with color.

With kindness, we have the power to figuratively and literally color someone’s world. We have the capacity to make their day brighter and spread joy. This leads to a chain reaction of goodwill that has no end if we allow it to continue. That is powerful, and with that kind of strength, we can color parts of this world we didn’t even know possible.

But the power of kindness goes beyond a good character trait –– it extends into actual healing.

A video entitled The Science of Kindness highlights this truth.

“Studies show that if you perform just one act of kindness a day, you’ll not only reduce your stress, anxiety and depression, but your body is flooded with the same hormones that make you and the person you’ve helped calmer, healthier and happier,” the video explains.

With kindness, we have the power to physically enhance ourselves and others, to bring healing and overcome mental struggles. How can it be argued that cruel intentions and cold remarks supersede this facet of science? The power of kindness extends into the physical healing of ourselves and others, and to take hold of that power and use it is courageous and bold.

We have the power to live our lives with kindness at the forefront, and when we choose kindness, we choose greatness.

But with this adoption of kindness comes the ever-so-common phrase “you’re too nice.” After fighting my own battle with the ways of the world, here’s what I have to say to that: It’s a nonsensical way of misunderstanding the limitless nature of kindness.

If kindness had a limit, we would run out of kind actions and resort to cruel intentions. Kindness is a choice we adopt, and while it can be something we switch on and off, the decision to do so would strip kindness of its genuine roots. Kindness is not something based on the criteria of choosing when and when not to execute it, but something that should always be evident.   

With that being said, we must know the difference between being kind and being stepped on. When we are kind, it allows individuals to become comfortable with us and feel invited into our lives. But some abuse that truth, and when someone does that we need to draw the line.

In an interview with Elle, Taylor Swift says it best, “Grow a backbone, trust your gut, and know when to strike back. Be like a snake—only bite if someone steps on you.”

Being kind does not mean sacrificing your worth or value. It means understanding how to treat others but also understanding how to treat yourself. Kindness is a powerful trait to posses and it extends beyond all other characteristics. It’s something that is not often found in this world, but that only echoes the call to further the truth of what kindness is.

So no, kindness is not a weakness –– it is our power.