The other day, I was in a shopping mall and leaving the building. I pulled the door open to walk out but as there were people walking in, I held the door open for them first.
And as they were walking in, I had expected them to say thank you, or at least look at me with a grateful nod or a smile. But I got none of those things. They just walked through the door and carried on on their way as if nothing had happened. And as I exited the building, I was filled with frustration and annoyance. I felt like my act of kindness deserved some reciprocation or at least some form of acknowledgement. And when I didn’t get it, I got upset about it.
But then I realised that kindness is like a gift — it should be something we give without expecting anything in return. Sure, it’d be lovely if it’s reciprocated but it’s one thing to appreciate if it is and another to expect it. And I realised that so often, I’m just kind to people who I know will show kindness back to me. And that’s easy. It’s easy being kind to those who are also kind to you. But it’s much harder to be kind to someone who isn’t.
But kindness is a choice. It’s a choice we make in how to act and respond to someone or a situation. Someone once said “Cleverness is a gift; Kindness is a choice.” So we all have the ability to choose to be kind. Sometimes that choice is easier than others but it’s a choice we can each make.
Just this past week, I was interacting with a child who was rather rude and disrespectful to me. It’s very easy to be a kind, gentle and loving teacher to the angelic student in the class but it’s a lot harder to choose to be that kind, gentle and loving teacher with someone who pushes all your wrong buttons. But choose kindness I still must.
And the thing with being kind is although we usually think about it as being something that benefits others, it also benefits ourselves.
Studies have found that people who engage in acts of kindness are happier, have lower blood pressure and feel they have more meaningful lives. One act of kindness can also lead to a chain reaction of other acts of kindness. When one person chooses to be kind to another, it’s more likely that person will be kind to another and leading to a chain reaction of ripples of kindness.
And if every person chooses kindness, then our homes, schools, communities and society at large will be kinder and more harmonious places.
Kindness can be to people we know well and I personally think it should start in the home, especially with our domestic helpers. But kindness can also be with complete strangers. Kindness can be as small as giving a smile or as big as making a life sacrifice to better the life of someone else. Kindness can be at any time of the day, at any place, with anyone and come in any form.
And as a city, we have the opportunity to make the city a kinder place through the Character Day campaign.
Character Day will take place globally on Sept. 13, 2017 and in Hong Kong, the theme is Choose Kindness. We’re inviting schools, organizations and individuals to all Choose Kindness by doing acts of kindness.
To take part in the campaign, please visit www.characterday.hk to sign up. You’re invited to the kick-off event on Sept. 13 at Telford Plaza 1, watch one of the kindness videos and then go and do an act of kindness. We can each make a difference so choose kindness and make our city a kinder place.
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