Why 'Be Greater' Is Important For Our Society

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Home > Articles > Why 'Be Greater' Is Important For Our Society

 Why 'Be Greater' Is Important For Our Society

William Wan | Today's Manager
December 2, 2019

When we look out for opportunities around us, kindness can become second nature.

Wealth, success, and power has been the key defining factors of greatness in Singapore society.

Singapore is known for its stable economy, world-class infrastructure, excellent housing, education, and healthcare systems that many countries envy. We also have one of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and income in the world.

Yet, Singaporeans do not seem to be happy. Singapore has the highest depression rate in Asia, according to a 2015 study by the World Health Organization.

In our pursuit of prosperity and progress, have we forgotten how to be happy and how to care for each other as a nation?

True Greatness is More than Wealth, Success, and Power
The Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM)’s ‘Be Greater’ campaign redefines kindness as the measure of success that really matters, not the usual associations of wealth, status, and power.

It also challenges Singaporeans and other residents to go beyond random acts of kindness, and instead consider our individual and collective values.

It is important for Singapore as a nation to shift its narrative when it comes to our definition and pursuit of greatness.

True greatness is about character and a better version of ourselves beyond success, wealth, and power.

More than that, greatness is about the kindness that is in us. And we can all exemplify this through purposeful acts of kindness within our own circles, in very ordinary settings such as our workplaces, neighbourhoods, and homes.

‘Be Greater’ is a Personal Choice
Everyday situations present opportunities for us to be kind, whether it is giving way to another driver on the road, lending a helping hand to someone in need, or encouraging a friend with kind words.

Motorcyclist Mr Angelo was on the road one night when he encountered an aged, wheelchair-bound man trying with difficulty to cross the road. Without any hesitation, Mr Angelo got down from his bike and helped to push the elderly man across the road.

“It only takes a few seconds to be kind to others, and it can change someone’s day. It can even create a ripple effect where others are inspired to be kind to those around them too,” said Mr Angelo.

Being greater is easily achievable by all. When we look out for opportunities around us, and choose kindness, giving and receiving kindness can become second nature. We become less hindered by doubts or self-consciousness. Kindness becomes part of our national identity that Singaporeans can take pride in.

The findings from Singapore Kindness Movement’s latest Graciousness Survey cited that more youths aspire to make an impact in creating a greater community. Some have responded to the call to be greater in their own ways.

Undergraduate Mr Adrian Foo started a project collecting five-cent coins from friends, family, and even strangers, to raise funds and awareness for needy cardboard collectors. More than 14,000 coins worth S$709 was collected and donated.

“It is really heartening to see what we can do for the community when we all come together to contribute,” wrote Mr Foo in one of his Facebook posts. “No amount of contribution is too small.”

There are more of such stories on The Pride, which showcase real-life Singaporeans defying the bystander effect and stepping up to help when the opportunity calls for it.

These stories are slowly helping to change the narrative that one must have more in terms of material possessions and achievements to be successful and happy.

We Cannot Choose to be Happy, but We Can Choose to be Kind
If we center our lives around material possessions for our self-enjoyment, we will be unhappy because scientific studies show that beyond a certain amount that we need, money does not add on to our happiness.

At the end of the day, life is about relationships, not about money. Money is only an extension of our ability to share and care.

This July, in partnership with The Straits Times, SKM organised a panel discussion which debated the question: “Why should the privileged give back to society? And how?”

The aim was to start a national conversation for Singaporeans to reflect on what it means to be privileged, and how we can help others in different ways.

With self-awareness, empathy, and contentment with what we have, we can be more conscious, deliberate, and specific in our giving, resulting in an ongoing process of mutual care and everyone giving to each other as we are able.

A Positive Feedback Loop between Kindness and Happiness
Paradoxically, in being other-centred, we benefit ourselves in the process. When we are kind, we become happier, and the happier we feel, the more likely we are to do another kind act. And people who engage in kind acts become happier over time.

When we place more emphasis on kindness, graciousness, and other-centredness, happiness naturally comes as a by-product.

If each of us can choose to be greater in our individual lives, in our own capacity and form, imagine what the collective impact could be for our society?

True greatness is not about what we achieve, but the kind of people we strive to be. Together, we can Be Greater.



Dr William Wan is a Justice of the Peace and General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM). He was a senior partner of a regional law firm and a managing director of a psychometric company headquartered in the USA.


Copyright © 2019 Singapore Institute of Management

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Today's Manager Issue 4, 2019

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