In the grand of all things, this is probably the most topical questions every now and then: Which country is the happiest?
The whole sphere surrounding this issue makes it seems like a global competition or serves as a macro reflection to look into the structures of every nation.
According to World Happiness Report published in March, Singapore remained as the happiest country in Asia at the spot of 26th while Malaysia is positioned at the 42th place over 155 countries.
And recently in November issue of National Geographic’s magazine, NatGeo further accentuates why Singapore is the happiest country in the world (as well as Denmark and Costa Rita).
The writer of the article, Dan Buettner, wrote the piece in an uplifting tone while idealizing Singapore’s Asian values and materialism. Both, in which, brings a different light to the ideologies, seeing them a straightforward solution to happiness.
Easily put, Buettner stated that Singaporeans’ happiness can be summed up into 5 C’s:
- Credit card
- Club membership
That is not all. Buettner put that to get to that 5 C’s just to follow these rules: getting into the right school, land the right job. Voila, happiness is yours.
To be honest, reading that really makes me wonder. What about happiness at a spiritual level? These 5 C’s seem superficial. And we all know money can’t buy you happiness. So why does that work for Singaporeans?
Source: National Geographic
Although we have drastic differences in terms of governance and culture, but we share the same Asian values. The ideology that both countries’ former Prime Ministers, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Lee Kuan Yew, used to shape the countries. Read on to see how Singapore does it differently than us:
Singapore: A Clear, Safe Path Leads to Success by Dan Buettner
Singapore has developed its own approach to happiness, as personified by Douglas Foo. I first met Foo when I visited Singapore in 2008. He had a reputation for being hugely successful, community minded, consummately principled, and irrepressibly affable. But his clearest expression of happiness, I discovered, was neither his expensive sports car nor his trophy case of business awards. It was his laugh: a widemouthed, back-tilted howl of joy.
Foo runs Sakae Sushi, Singapore’s largest chain of quick-service sushi restaurants, but he still finds time to volunteer for 22 organizations. During his 14-hour workdays he wears tailored blue suits and presides over a dozen meetings with a mix of earnest ceremony, careful consideration, baritone decisiveness, and pandemic humor. His gift for defusing tension with spontaneous laughter coupled with a herculean work capacity has earned him all the trappings of Singaporean success. And while Foo will tell you he’s happy, he still feels he hasn’t yet arrived.
“In the scope of things I’m just an insect,” he said with a grave expression on his round face. Then, realizing his own hyperbole, he cracked up.
Foo, 48, is at an age that straddles the desperate-to-survive generation that founded Singapore in the 1960s and the 20-somethings who will marshal in a new future. In just over half a century, the 30-mile-long nation has transformed itself from a large fishing village into a country of 5.8 million people living amid thousands of high-rises and more than 150 shopping malls, a metropolis graced by tidy, tree-lined streets.
Success for Singaporeans lies at the end of a well-defined path: Follow the rules, get into the right school, land the right job, and happiness is yours. (It’s traditionally summed up as the five C’s: car, condominium, cash, credit card, and club membership.) In a system that aspires to be a meritocracy, talent and performance are rewarded, in theory. You’ll hear Singaporeans complain about rising prices and their overworked lives, but almost all of them say they feel safe and trust one another.
The architect of this social experiment (follow the rules to attain 5 C’s) was the late Lee Kuan Yew, who led Singapore’s independence movement in 1965. Overwhelmingly loved by Singaporeans, he famously endorsed strict laws and corporal punishment for violent crimes.
With a keen appreciation for traditional Asian values, Lee set out to build a society based on harmony, respect, and hard work. Anyone who made an effort to work, no matter how lowly the job, was guaranteed a livable wage. His “workfare” program supplemented low salaries with housing and health care subsidies.
Although the population is largely composed of Chinese (74.3 percent), Malays (13.4 percent), and Indians (9.1 percent), Lee’s government retained English as a lingua franca to help ensure no ethnicity would have the upper hand. He guaranteed religious freedom and equal education for all, and he subsidized homeownership. Most Singaporeans own a flat in government-developed housing, usually a high-rise unit. By law such buildings must reflect the ethnic diversity of the country—so Singapore has no racial or ethnic ghettos.
As a result the people of Singapore today exemplify the third strand of happiness—what experts call life satisfaction. You score high when you’re living your values and are proud of what you’ve accomplished. You tend to be financially secure, have a high degree of status, and feel a sense of belonging. To achieve this type of happiness can take years, and it often comes at the expense of enjoying moment-to-moment daily pleasures.
Cover photo and source: National Geographic