Pedestrians walk down a street in downtown financial district in Singapore on January 29, 2013. (AFP photo)
I’m sure that many of you readers out there believe the number one way to become a happier Singaporean is to vote for the correct political party in 2016.
Regardless of your political views, this article isn’t about politics or about what the government can do to make you happy.
It’s about what you can do to make yourself happy.
Let me start by asking you a few questions:
Are you unhappy about your job?
Are you dissatisfied with the public transportation system?
Are you frustrated by the high cost of living?
You probably answered “yes” to at least one of those questions.
It seems like we have plenty of reasons to be unhappy. According to this recent report, we’re the unhappiest people in the world.
(We’re even more unhappy than people living in Iraq and Afghanistan. I find that unbelievable!)
Many people think they’ll be happy when they have the 5 C’s: cash, car, credit card, condominium, and country club.
The new 5 Cs that we should all be chasing after
But, on their own, these 5 Cs won’t bring you long-term happiness.
I’d like to introduce you to the 5 Cs that will:
1. Compare less
The more we compare ourselves with others, the unhappier we become. There will always be someone who is:
- Smarter than you
- Richer than you
- Luckier than you
- Better-looking than you
- More popular than you
- More charismatic than you
- More accomplished than you
You don’t benefit from comparing yourself with these people. The only person you should compare yourself with is you.
Are you wiser than you were a year ago? Kinder? More generous? More courageous?
If your answer is “no”, then it’s time to reflect and to commit to making real changes in your life.
2. Cherish what you have
Every expert on happiness will tell you that grateful people are happy people.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, describes from a scientific perspective why counting your blessings makes you happier.
Following Dr. Lyubomirsky’s advice, we should write down at least one thing we’re grateful for every day. That’s sure to make us happier.
By expressing gratitude, we’re not denying that some things in life aren’t ideal. We’re simply acknowledging that, in many ways, we’re blessed.
We can all become happier by making a conscious effort to cherish what we have: family, friends, religious freedom, food to eat, a safe country to live in.
3. Choose your attitude
I’ve heard a saying that goes, “Your attitude determines your altitude.”
Cheesy but true? I think so.
You can’t always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude.
Your boss gave you a difficult assignment? You can either see it as a problem or as a challenging opportunity.
Your project didn’t get off to a good start? You can either see it as a stumbling block or as a stepping-stone to future success.
Attitude is a choice, just like happiness is a choice.
4. Complain less
Complain—it’s something we all do. But whenever we complain, without also proposing an alternative, we’re being irresponsible.
Some people believe that it’s the citizens’ job to complain and the government’s job to provide solutions.
But this isn’t the right attitude. As a responsible citizen, if we oppose government policy, then we should also take the initiative to suggest a viable solution.
When we’re whining, nobody’s winning. So let’s complain less.
5. Change your circumstances and yourself
When things don’t go your way, it’s easy to feel frustrated, helpless or confused.
Any time you feel this way, ask yourself:
“What is one thing I can do right now to improve the situation?”
This is an empowering question, because it makes you realize that there’s always something productive you can do.
You just need to focus on the one action you can take immediately.
If you’re unhappy about your relationship with your boss, schedule a conversation with him or her.
If you’re unhappy about your salary, improve your skills, enroll in a course, find a mentor, or negotiate a pay increase. You could even start a business on the side.
There’s an endless list of things you could do to make your life better. If you’re not willing to do anything on that list, then you shouldn’t complain.
Instead of complaining, take action.
Happiness isn’t just an emotion. It’s a choice—a daily one.
Finding real happiness takes dedication and determination, so it’s not for the fainthearted.
It’s time to embrace the new 5 Cs.
It’s time to build a happier life and a happier Singapore.
It’s time to get to work.
Daniel Wong is the bestselling author of “The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success”. He offers The Exam Excellence (TEE) Mentoring Programme to help students to find exam success, while discovering new purpose in their journey of education. He writes regularly at www.daniel-wong.com. Download his FREE e-book,“The Unhappiness Manifesto: Do You Make These 150 Mistakes In The Pursuit Of Happiness?”, here. Download his other FREE e-book, “Singapore Scholarship Guide: The $500,000 Decision”, here.