To be nice, manage perception.
To be kind, manage impact.
To be a “nice person” requires a deeply dedicated (and exhausting) centering of self, while simultaneously attempting to appear that you are not doing so at all. You must perpetually worry yourself with other people’s perceptions of you. You must allow your own imagination about what other people think and feel about you to determine what you think and feel about yourself. There is almost no room for anyone else to exist except as a prop for your inner life. It is at once busy and lonely. You must relinquish your power, and still maintain control—an unsustainable proposition.
Kindness does not require us to control anything or anyone. Kindness is the power to love ourselves and other people enough to allow them to have their own opinions about us, even when they are unflattering, because practicing cruelty-free truth-telling matures us and deepens relationships. Kindness requires self-respect, while allowing us the freedom to not be the center of our own attention—we concern ourselves with our impact to the physical, spiritual, and emotional ecosystem we all inhabit together.