Resolved to "Love my Neighbours"

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul... Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” - G. K. Chesterton.

It is often said that New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. I certainly hope that is not true of us. I do believe that it is a good time to make some simple resolutions.

Since people do not care about what we know until they know that we care, it is good to resolve to walk the talk. It is cheap to talk about values without practising them. This New Year I resolved to practice good neighbourliness even as we promote it as a movement.


A friend of mine who manages a cleaning company created a calendar for 2015 with a series of cartoons. It is titled “Kindness and Consideration”. It occurs to me that that is precisely how we can practically show care to our neighbours. For each month of the year, we are reminded to do the kind and considerate thing. Here is the list:
  • Do not squat on toilet bowls; 
  • Use the hand dryer or hand towels, 
  • Return food tray after use; 
  • Bin your litter; 
  • Save electricity; 
  • Be considerate to other moviegoers; 
  • Give way to alighting passengers; 
  • Move further in when boarding a train or bus; 
  • Offer priority seats to people in need; 
  • Signal before changing lanes; 
  • Clean up after your dog; and 
  • Wring laundry dry before hanging.

By being thoughtful we are helping to preserve a better environment for our neighbours, making life pleasant for all. And the environment is both physical, social and emotional. That is graciousness which is kindness in action.

An MP tagged me on my Facebook recently with a query from a member of her ward. She wrote:
My neighbour smokes in his patio every day. And the smoke always come into our living room. I don’t mind closing the door when she smokes, but imagine I have to open and close the door more than 10 times a day. I tried to speak to him, he replied that he has the right to smoke in his patio, and asked me if not, where can he smoke? He suggests I close my door every time he smokes. I told him that my th ree kids cannot take the smell.

Can I suggest that all residential areas including patios be banned from smoking? Have smoking areas like what we have in parks and neighbourhood centres. Hopefully, this can reduce the number of smokers and more importantly, fresh air for everyone.
I can understand the need to have smoking areas and I can also appreciate that some of us are allergic to cigarette smoke, not to mention the dangerous effects of second hand smoke on an intense and prolonged basis. But what is the solution, really, I echoed her concern in my head.

As it happened, I have a lovely set of immediate neighbours who share a common lift landing with us. Since we are the only units on the one floor, we see a lot of each other and we share goodies and even rides from time to time. We are ideal neighbours.


There is, however, one small problem. The matriarch of our neighbours is a fine grand lady of eighty plus. And she smokes quite heavily. And this is what I posted on the Facebook in response:
My neighbour who is a great neighbour smokes at the stairwell. I climb the steps for exercise and the smoke does irritate. She is in her 80s and could not stop smoking. I try to understand and love my neighbour for who she is. I need to accept her. She has nowhere to smoke. That is how I deal with it in my case.

I must add that I do engage her and encourage her to cut back and she appreciates that and does try. She is thoughtful and avoid smoking when I am climbing but sometimes she does not know when I am coming down or going up the stairs, and always apologises.
As to be expected there were different views posted by various people. But the episode has a positive and gracious ending. The same resident who posed the problem updated:
I have a nice chat this morning with my neighbour’s daughter who is very understanding. We spoke and hopefully the issue is settled. She suggests her dad to smoke at a quiet corner as she herself also doesn’t like the smell. Eventually, it all boils down to communication.
How right she is – it all boils down to communication. That is why we encourage our friends to consider becoming connectors and start a makan group with a couple of immediate neighbours to build connection to facilitate communication and good neighbourliness. Please visit www.kindness.sg/letsmakan for more information.

www.kindness.sg/letsmakan

A good number of such makan groups have already been started and some wonderful stories are already coming in. A neighbour who had a dispute with another over some leaking problems was heard at one of the makan gathering saying to the other, “It is good that we are gathered as neighbours for this meal. I would like to invite you over for a meal another time to get to know each other better.”

Neighbours having a makan gathering by the poolside
Neighbours sharing a meal along the corridor

It is reported 2 years ago that there were 70,000 complaints between immediate neighbours lodged with the authorities. I am convinced that when we are connected and able to start talking to each other, we need not lodge complaints against each other because we are able to communicate with each other.

Resolving to be kind and gracious neighbours is also good for our own health and wellbeing. We have a booklet which summarized 5 Amazing Benefits of Being Kind. We would like you to have it – in fact you are welcome to request for as many as you need for your use as gifts to your friends and to give away at functions. It makes a beautiful gift. Just email us at janet_puah@kindness.sg or call her at 68379954 and we can arrange for you to have them.



Relationship is about accepting people and situations. It is also about courage to make changes. And it is about the wisdom to distinguish between the two. I love this prayer that brings the three elements together so beautifully.

Give me Grace to accept with Serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
that should be changed,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.

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