Kristen Bell seems like the nicest person ever—and in a new essay for Cosmopolitan, she admits that she pretty much is. But she also says that she’s had to learn the difference between being “nice” and being “kind,” and that somewhere in the middle, she found self-confidence.
“Acts of kindness gave me an endorphin boost and made me feel emotionally and physically strong,” Bell says about her high school days. “I made sure to smile at strangers on the street, I donated time to charitable organizations, and I always did my best to make people feel good. I had a real handle on kindness. I knew it inside and out and could generate it like a beast.”
“I had, unknowingly, tied my self-worth to everyone other than myself.”
But as Bell embarked on an acting career, she found herself doing that thing everyone does at some point: comparing herself to others. In her case, that meant comparing herself to other actresses, and questioning why they got certain jobs or roles she didn’t. “I became increasingly resentful and disappointed when my success didn’t line up with others’,” she says. “I had, unknowingly, tied my self-worth to everyone other than myself.”
Enter Bell’s husband, Dax Shepard, and a hefty dose of tough love. “He looked me square in the eye and said, ‘Are you crazy? This is a self-destructive path. You can only compare your current self to your former self. You’ll get a comparison hangover if you constantly measure your worth against someone else,'” Bell says.
Was she defensive at first? Yup. But she came around. “He showed me true kindness by putting himself in an uncomfortable position and telling me what I needed to hear instead of what I wanted to hear…It was at that moment I realized being nice isn’t synonymous with being kind,” Bell says. “Kindness is the high dive. It requires courage and vulnerability to choose to be honest with people when they may not want to hear it. Real talk—it’s scary. Like pee-in-your-pants scary. But it’s also worth it, because when executed correctly, kindness can produce real personal evolution.”
So uh, how does one go about getting Shepard on call IRL? (Or can we get at least get a “Dear Dax” advice column going?)
And because confidence is contagious, heed this career-boosting advice from 9 super-successful CEOs, channel your inner Taystee with these kickass mantras from Danielle Brooks, or just pick up a guitar.