The Meaning of Nice: How Compassion and Civility Can Change Your Life (and the World), a new book from Tricycle‘s editor at large, Joan Duncan Oliver, takes a closer look at the cliched idea of “nice” as a mild, inoffensive, and rather bland sort of praise. After examining the word through the lenses of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and religion, Oliver concludes that “nice” is, in fact, complex, multifaceted, and less a single quality than a group of qualities that constitute a way of being in the world. Being a “nice” person is taking an approach to life that’s grounded in kindness, compassion, integrity, loyalty, generosity, courtesy, respect, and humor. Character, in other words. With the possible exception of humor, these are pretty much qualities the Buddha encouraged us to develop on the path to awakening.

Also, make sure to check out Oliver’s “9 Ways to be Nicer” on the Huffington Post.