It’s a thumbs up from us for the Singapore Kindness Movement

For a quote that has no official author, the saying “If you can be anything in this world, be kind” certainly is popular. The phrase is emblazoned on t-shirts, mugs, cushions, and across social media. And it is never more poignant than around the holiday season, especially this year, as the world continues in many ways to burn.

Yet for some people in Singapore, kindness is not just for Christmas. Indeed, 25 years ago, former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong called on Singaporeans to develop into a more caring and gracious society. As a response, the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) was born, and they make kindness a way of life.

You might have heard of them. The non-government, non-profit organisation constantly produce posters, videos, children’s newsletters and initiatives to get the good vibes flowing throughout our city-state. One of their major programmes is Kindness Day SG, which was first held in 2013 and takes place every year in the month of May to celebrate graciousness.

From left: Dr William Wan, General Secretary of SKM and Michelle Tay, Head of Partnerships

“We aspire to inspire compassion one kind act at a time. By sparing a thought for the people around us, we hope each of us can be greater, create a more gracious society, and make life better for everyone,” explains Dr William Wan, General Secretary of SKM. He continues, “I believe that Singaporeans are innately kind, but no doubt there will always be a minority who lack the emulation of graciousness toward others. That is why SKM exists to gently remind these individuals to start adopting kindness in their daily lives.”

In a world that is often cruel (perhaps more so than ever), SKM have a big job on their hands. Right now we’re feeling the aftermath of a harrowing pandemic, watching a war rage on in Europe, and dealing with everyday discrepancies such as rising living costs, casual racism, and a prevalence of cyberbullying and online trolling. There’s a lot of meanness to deal with, but if we can start to be more considerate in small ways, we can reap the emotional dividends. Not only can a thoughtful gesture make a difference to those who are struggling, but studies show that the simple act of being caring boosts the feel-good hormone serotonin, eases anxiety, reduces inflammation and illness, and even helps you live longer.

From left: Yee Sing Chia, Head of Education and Karun S’Baram, Head of Strategic Marketing & Communications

Be kind, be happy

No-one understands this better than SKM which consists of the SKM secretariats, council members and the lovely-sounding Kindred Spirit Circle – a group of volunteers who organise Ground-Up Movements (GUMs), Organised Kindness Initiatives and Enterprises (OKIEs), and Voices of Loving Kindness (VoLKs).

The circle expands every year, with the past few years promoting several drives including the ‘Be Greater’ campaign which nudged Singaporeans to ditch self-doubt and step up to show spontaneous kindness to strangers. Last year, they produced a video series called ‘Be Kind Be Happy’ to engage the older generation, weaving in Chinese dialects, English and Mandarin. The series showcased one common topic: how to improve graciousness and neighbourliness. In 2022 there has been a commitment to dispelling stereotypes about people in misunderstood jobs and highlighting kindness – and unkindness – within the workplace by launching a book, Making Kindness Our Business. Says Dr Wan, “We hope employers can help bring back the ‘human’ in human resources and make kindness part of their business.”

Thankfully, goodwill does not have to be an overtly grand gesture. You don’t have to donate a kidney or buy everyone at the hawker a beer. As Dr Wan points out: “All kind acts, small or big, will accrue and positively impact society.” The best part is that with little acts of humanity, you can jump on a “positive feedback loop” – where being kind increases your own happiness, not just that of the people you help. And who doesn’t want a bit of that?

Simple ways to show you care:

  • Be ‘other-centered’
    Experiment with altruism in your day-to-day life. The key to being kind is by simply not making yourself a constant priority. Being other-centered means being aware and considerate of others
  • Start small
    Say hello to a neighbour or learn the name of your bus driver. Although this doesn’t sound like much, research shows the smallest acts of kindness can have a big difference
  • Sneak kindness into your schedule
    Popping out for lunch? Pick up an extra snack for someone who’ll need it. Hitting the MRT at rush hour? Check if there’s someone who needs help with heavy luggage or needs a seat more than you
  • Be accountable
    Think about your interactions on social media. Before you post something, ask yourself: ‘Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?’ If it’s not at least two of these, then keep quiet
  • Control your tech
    We’ve all succumbed to Stomp-style clickbait, but if we really want to be kinder, reduce time spent on social media, or at least cull the accounts that infuse you with negativity

ANZA readers interested in showing their support in promoting the value of kindness can share SKM’s content on social media platforms.


Sources: Kindness health benefits: