Look up the word “kindness” and you’ll get “generosity”, “compassion”, “goodness” and “being helpful”, among others.
“Yes, we know all that” is what you’re probably going to say, or “That’s common sense”, “It should be second nature” and “We know how to be kind”. But do we, really?
You’d think it doesn’t need to be said
But do you remember the last time you were kind to someone? Do you stop and think about it, and what an act of kindness could mean to yourself and to that person? Maybe we need to be gently reminded sometimes (or even all the time – I know I do).
“Maybe it’s (because of) our rushed lifestyle. Most of us wrap ourselves in this busy life that we do not have the time or energy to look out for the larger community, which can sometimes be just right under our noses,” observes Sherry Soon, the founder of Be Kind SG.
“We need to be reminded, as only when strangers start being kind to each other that we begin to feel how interconnected everyone is and take steps to make it a more inclusive society.”
How would you define it?
“My interpretation of what it means to be kind is to try and strip away your first instinct to judge a person or a situation, and to respond with empathy to connect the person or situation to yourself,” Sherry adds.
“That could mean stepping beyond your comfort zone to interact with people who you usually don’t, to gain different perspectives and appreciate the diversity of our society.”
There are different ways you can go about it
Sherry has chosen to establish Be Kind SG around two years ago. “It’s a ground-up movement that aims to promote kindness and raise awareness on different causes through various micro-volunteering activities,” she relates.
“We focus on outreach to the less visible communities, such as adults and seniors with intellectual disabilities, and children and youth with special needs. Our volunteering activities include visiting and engaging the residents of two welfare homes, befriending socially isolated persons with intellectual disabilities, and supporting activities for children with special needs.
“In line with focusing on the less visible communities, we also appreciate the ‘invisible’ everyday heroes, such as the teachers who teach children with special needs, transport workers, nurses working in IMH, caregivers of children with medical conditions, foreign healthcare workers, and many more!”
It’s part of her life story
Sherry reveals that she is also an advocate for autoimmune diseases, having had vasculitis for the last 18 years. It’s described as an “inflammation of the blood vessels”.
“It is an ‘invisible’ disease, as people would not be able to tell from my physical (appearance),” she explains.
“Perhaps this has influenced my outlook in life to support people with conditions that are not visible to the naked eye. My career has been focused on teaching children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD and other developmental delays.
“And now my ground-up movement supports the less visible communities that the general public may have little knowledge of.”
There are three sides
You’re either the one being kind or the one receiving an act of kindness. But what about being kind (or kinder) to ourselves? We should include this factor in the mix. We can be quite hard and incredibly focused on ourselves, and even less forgiving.
Sherry shares five ways we can be kinder to ourselves, which in the process could help us become kinder to, and more understanding of, other people. 😊 It could also be the one thing you can do every day that might turn things around for you.
#1 “When we face a tough situation, we should always remember that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how winding the tunnel seems to be.”
#2 “It’s okay to stop and rest when you’re physically or mentally tired. Life is not a competition with anyone else!”
#3 “Work is only one part of our life and it should not define us. Find your self-worth in many different, meaningful and purposeful activities.”
#4 “Surround yourself with loved ones and friends. Reach out and connect with them via text, call or a meet-up.”
#5 “Always appreciate and be grateful for what we already have.” 😊
You’d be surprised at – and happy with – the results. But you probably wouldn’t be, because you already know what it means to be kind; you just need a reminder? 😊
Photos by Harriet Koh