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Choose Kindness

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (August 31, 2017)

"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 happend. 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 last week, I was interacting with a child who was rather rude and disrespectful to me. It's very easier 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 c