Saturday, December 22, 2012

Unhappy Riches

It is sad that Singaporeans don't feel happy. According to a recent Gallup Poll, not only are Singaporeans emotionless, they feel less positive compared to people in countries where war is, or at least recently has been, the norm.

Actually, it is not difficult to understand this result. Singapore is a goal-oriented high performing country with an almost religious bent on efficiency, in terms of the economy, education, healthcare, finance, infrastructure, and whatever else it feels it must be first in, which just about includes everything. We have been brought up with a siege mentality - either we make the island succeed as a nation or we are consigned to the dustbin of history, easily absorbed by our neighbours, Malaysia or Indonesia. If this were to happen, we would be consigned to the backwaters, controlled by others where discrimination is the constant monotonous tune.

No, we don't want that, and therefore, we strived hard and succeeded. But success breeds success, and soon, we find ourselves condemned to a life of ever striving after the best. There is just no going back. Yes, we became rich, materially, but something had to give. And what gave was a simpler lifestyle where people and not money, matters more, where the simple things of life will suffice on the happiness index.

But it is not really our fault. As they say, we are victims of our circumstances. Perhaps now that we know how miserable we are compared to the rest of the world, we can engineer a lot more happiness and emotions among ourselves. It is ironic that we have to do this because we thought that our strivings for a better life will give us happiness, but it turned out to have the opposite effect. Is happiness and economic growth inversely related? Maybe someone economist or sociologist somewhere at sometime studied this and has the answer. In characteristic fashion, we need to study this carefully so that we can tune the system to yield more happiness though not at the expense of economic growth and efficiency.

Given Singapore's track record, I have no doubt that this can be done. Then we can share the formula with the Gallup organization.


Anthony said...

Perhaps the solution is simple. Everyone agrees to look in the mirror and smile, or better yet laugh, 5 times a day.

Epilogos Blogger said...

Just learnt that Singaporeans will have to set aside more of their CPF money in their Medisave accounts. So we never seem to be able to earn enough for our old age. No wonder Singaporeans are an unhappy lot.

Epilogos Blogger said...

Here is the link to this bit of news: