Happiness or well-being usually consists of two parts:
- An affective part (AKA feeling)
- for example: feeling happy frequently and sad rarely
- and a cognitive part (AKA thinking)
- for example: how one think of the outside world and external events in their life
I hope to share the research done on the affective part through this article. (Diener, 1984; Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999)
Have you felt happy in the past few days?
In 2011, Gallup conducted a poll asking respondents in 148 countries this question and guess what they found?
In Singapore, 46 percent (less than half) responded yes.
While in the happiest country, Panama, an exceeding 90 percent of them said yes! (Ghosh, 2014).
What else did the poll find?
The poll also showed that Singaporeans are the most unemotional, having restricted range in emotions. Restricted as well in the extent we can experience happiness.
Are there other studies telling me the obvious thing that Singaporeans are not a happy lot?
Randstad’s World of Work Report indicated that Singaporean workers are the unhappiest in Asia (Ghosh, 2014).
Tan (2014) mentioned in The Straits Times that more young professionals in Singapore are suffering from burnout, and a few psychiatrists have revealed that up to 90 percent of their patients are grappling with mental health issues caused by stress from work.
So what if we are unhappy and stressed?
Being emotionally taxed and overburdened with stress causes physical and psychological health problems, and poor judgement (G. Corey, M. Corey, & Callanan, 2011).
When I was a Child Protection Officer (CPO) with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), I experienced sadness and anger frequently.
What helped me through these?
It was through positive emotions from interactions with colleagues that helped me to cope with the stress.
I later learnt that positive emotions can be generated on our own.
How can someone do that?
Gratitude is the practice of attending to, savouring, and being thankful for one’s circumstances and loved ones (Shin and Lyubomirsky (in press)).
Note that it can be towards oneself or loved ones, or even your enemies.
This has been found by (Lyubomirsky, 2007) to help people cope with stressful life events by reinterpreting them.
Senf and Liau (2012) discovered that there may be a link between gratitude and a group of positive emotions such as contentment, happiness, pride, and hope.
So, How do we practice gratitude? Check out the next article…
Corey, G., Corey, M. S., & Callanan, P. (2011). Issues and ethics in the helping professions (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542-575.
Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E. and Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276-302. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.125.2.276
Ghosh, P. (2014, January 22). Singaporeans ‘unhappiest’ workers in Asia, Indians ‘happiest’: Randstad. International Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/singaporeans-unhappiest-workers-asia-indians-happiest-randstad-1545990
Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The how of happiness: A new approach to getting the life you want. United States of America: The Penguin Press.
Senf, K., & Liau, A. K. (2012). The effects of positive interventions on happiness and depressive Symptoms, with an examination of personality as a moderator. Journal of Happiness Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10902-012-9344-4
Shin, L. J., & Lyubomirsky, S. (in press). Positive activity interventions for mental health conditions: Basic research and clinical applications. In J. Johnson & A. Wood (Eds.), The handbook of positive clinical psychology. New York: Wiley.
Tan, A. (2014, April 14). More young professionals suffering from burn-out. The Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/more-young-professionals-suffering-from-burn-out