to a recent survey that measured the graciousness of Singaporeans, it concluded that people living in Singapore are less gracious than before. The fall in graciousness index is attributed to the preoccupation of the rising cost of living, discontentment with the nation’s state of affairs and survival in the ever fast-paced, competitive society. Ironically, while respondents feel that people are less gracious now, they still perceive the Singapore society as a caring and polite one. While many have posted their comments online to join in the discussion on why Singapore is no longer gracious, it is high time to remind ourselves why everyone ought to be gracious and kind to one another. Firstly, being kind yields many physical and mental health benefits according to psychological research as far back as the 1970s. It is recorded that when a person performs an act of kindness, the brain produces dopamine that regulates a variety of functions within his / her brain and body, from regulating blood flow, to eating habits, to learning, to cognitive functioning and to behavior. It also produces endorphins which makes one feel positive and happy. Additionally, when you do an act of kindness such as helping someone carrying their groceries, an emotional bond is created. The body produces oxytocin, a hormone, which will cause the dilation of arteries, thus resulting in a reduction of blood pressure. Simultaneously, by showing compassion, one’s vagus nerve (the longest nerve in the human body which controls inflammation and keeps the cardiovascular system healthy) will become more active. Upon looking at such facts, it is apparent that we are responsible for our own unkindness and unhappiness to a great extent. The most logical thing we all then, should do, is to perform acts of kindness wherever and whenever possible. Being kind is not one that’s overly tedious, nor does it need to be in a big way. Below are some encouragement and suggestions to do so.
Be kind first.
Kindness as an attitude is infectious. When you’re willing to share your kindness, others will be inspired by your example and think about doing something as kind themselves. Fan that flame by being kind to everyone.
Random acts of kindness can be shown through thoughtfulness about the needs of others. How many times did you wish someone could have been more thoughtful before they did or said something? Try to be an example of this for others to follow.
- Put someone else first. If you get to the grocery store check-out line at the same time as someone else, you can decide to smile and wave them through first.
- When you’re stuck in traffic and the last thing you want to do is let a car get in front of you, just remember that somebody else had to let you in, and repay the favor to the next person!
Use your manners as a form of kindness.
Manners aren’t dead, they’ve just been forgotten in many ways. Yet, manners are the bedrock of courteous and kind relations and their use is an indication of respect for others.
- Hold doors open for others,
- hold an umbrella over someone in the rain,
- be on time for everyone you’ve promised to meet.
- Say thank you. Whenever anyone does something for you, be grateful and let them know it.
- Clean up after your own mess in the washroom and at public dining areas. Better yet, help others to clean up theirs too!
- Pick up your litter and all other litter you see along the way.
Give out compliments generously.
Begin by telling your family member or friends how much they mean to you or you care about them. Surprise your teacher or a staff in school by telling him/her how good he/she looks or what good a job he/she is doing. If you are a little bolder, when you’re stuck in an elevator or waiting in a queue with a stranger, instead of staring at the floor, find something you like about the other person and compliment him/her on it. Not only will it make him/her feel good, it just might kick off a conversation with a new friend. Be sincere and mean what you say.
Think about people who quietly make a difference to your community and thank them.
Think of all the people in your life whose faces and names you’ll never know but who serve and protect you day after day. You can thank them with a word of encouragement or a home-baked cake or cookies.
Cheer up the lonely.
Lonely people are everywhere, in all walks of life, of all ages. Helping lonely people to feel wanted is a hugely rewarding random act of kindness. You can do this by
- volunteering at an old folk’s home, hospice, orphanage or home for the disabled.
- donating food or much needed items to charitable organizations.
- Smile to a stranger who is not smiling.
- For something more adventurous, offer hugs for free on the streets.
You’d be amazed at the ripple effect an ounce of forgiveness can have in your life and in the lives of others. Unburden yourself of the past and think kind thoughts again about that person.
The greatest act of kindness is the one that is freely given because you care about another person and want them to be happy and you don’t expect anything in return. The thing about kindness is that it has its own rewards and will improve your sense of well-being and happiness; what more could you possibly want? Imagine this: if every single one of us just perform one act of kindness a day, I’m certain that the world will be a much happier and better place to live in.
The capabilities of mankind: