The 3rd National Kindness Conference

Rewind back to yesterday morning, around 830AM, at least 400 Singaporeans gathered in the Joyden Hall on the 7th floor of Bugis+ to passionately discuss the issue ‘Kindness’. I thank Ivy from Halogen for introducing this National Conference to me and getting a spot there with a few of my classmates was one of the best decisions I’ve made prior to this weekend. (Thanks Ivy!) Here I’d like to talk about some interesting things raised and thoughts I’ve had since the intriguing discussion we had within the halls. 

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The theme for this 3rd National Conference was “Are you the bo chup kind?”, questioning if kindness has really fallen out of the realms of ‘cool’ in the eyes of Singaporean and if it really was cooler for everyone to just find reasons and excuses not to care about each other. Many times when we take the initiative to vocalise positive thoughts or do kind deeds, there are thoughts like “trying to hard”, “act only” or “really, so kpo” that cross the minds of others, and that may discourage us from redoing any of these deeds again. But this really isn’t the way to go if we want to develop a very gracious culture and make our society warmer to live in. It all starts from you and me, to appreciate people for their kindness instead of facing it with cynicism and taking the initiative to be kind. The thing is, it really isn’t hard at all, for a small word of ‘thanks’ or a kind approach when conversing with strangers could go a long way to make someone’s day and we have to realise that if everyone keeps waiting and waiting for someone to show you kindness, no one will ever receive it. That’s unless we ourselves begin to practise it. 

For a start I learned that I have to change my fundamental mindsets- go back to basics and remember to treat everyone simply as human beings and not decide the amount of respect and courtesy I’d show them based on their wealth, looks, family background or profession. Everyone is entitled to receive kindness and everyone has the power to give it to those around us at anytime. Just because there is a reserved seat sign above some seats on public transport, it doesn’t mean the law has stated that these people are entitled to a greater right than the rest of us to these seats, in fact every person has the same right to every seat, the sign is only there to remind us to be considerate. The true kindness on public transport is built on the trust the people would take the seats only when they need it and get up when they don’t. If we realise this thought and start putting others in our shoes, we can all share the privileges that we all have a right to. Another example- just because you pay someone to serve you whether as a helper or in terms of customer service, it doesn’t mean that he/she is any more inferior than you. Both parties deserve the same amount of respect to one another. 

Besides, there isn’t anything big and noble about showing kindness, really it doesn’t even take a second, so should we not be generous with it and share the joy of the pay it forward system?

In the conference, the keynote speaker shared with us his mountain expeditions and the kind of help he had gotten to get up there. Upon receiving the help of the natives, he had gone back to give them the medical help and amenities that they didn’t have and this kindness of him has inspired at least those in the region, if not those he’s shared with, like myself. He also shared a few stories about how he solved the problems of people there with very simple things- an old lady could not see through her glasses but with a wipe of the glasses for her, she was on top of the world and her year-long problem was finally solved! This small act of kindness is true proof of what little can be done to make a big difference for someone else and its effect hasn’t ended yet, for the kind of things he may inspire others to do is unimaginable and uncountable to this date. You see, kindness knows no boundaries, and a simple act can unexpectedly go a very very long way.

I think my greatest takeaway besides all these changes in perspectives is that if we really want to exhibit kindness and truly meet the needs of others and help them in the simplest of ways, the best approach is to aim to understand. If we have the heart and sincerity to connect and understand, finding their simplest-to-solve yet greatest challenging problem could be a piece of cake. 

In the words of Dr. William Wan, Graciousness comes from the word GRACE, and a good way to remember what that stands for is G for gratitude, R for respect, A for acceptance, C for compliment and E for empathy. And that should be the key to your interaction with anyone around you. We are a beautiful country with beautiful parks and beautiful buildings. But my dream is that one day tourists would leave our country saying ‘I have been to a beautiful country, and it has beautiful people” 

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Here’s to the new friends I made! Thanks for the insightful discussions, it was my pleasure to get to meet all of you!

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