If You Don’t Do This, You Won’t Be Happy

Singaporeans are unhappy because they are lying to themselves.

So much for “Cash is king” and Singapore is the top X for whatever.

Singaporeans are not happy. Sometimes maybe, when they strike 4D, win lucky draw or get their first kiss.

But there is an undercurrent of apprehensiveness, a resentment that the happy feeling won’t last and tomorrow we will go to work feeling like shit.

We try to find escapades in food, travel, Korean dramas, sport, dating, shopping and other hobbies. Many of us pray to our gods for enlightenment in one form or another, deliverance from purgatory and that one thing we really want (till the next comes along).

We are overlooking one really important thing, which makes us feel sian and unproductive. And without exploring that part, identifying it and deciding what to do about it, we can’t get out of our funk.

It’s about being honest. Honest with ourselves why we feel the way we do, honest with others how we see and interpret things from our point of view, and honest with our gods on what we really desire.

1. Am I honest with myself?

I love the work I do, but sometimes I feel unhappy that I have to work so much. Is it my bosses’ fault, or the government’s fault, or my fault, that I feel pressurised to do more than I’m paid too?

Digging deeper, it could be a pride issue. I give >100% because not only do I want to do more than my best, but because I feel insecure that I’ll look bad if I just give 100%.

Why do I feel insecure? After that digging, it’s my pride, I just want to look good at work all the time, and not giving myself a break because normal (even once in a while) just doesn’t cut it for an overachiever.

So I’m to blame for being kiasu and causing myself unnecessary unhappiness.

In the same vein, are Singaporeans honest with themselves why they feel unhappy? Your real reason for being unhappy could be a deeper problem, such as a threat to your pride, your very existence or your belief in the meaning in life.

2. Am I honest with others?

I would feel unhappy whenever there is tension between me and another person. Sometimes I hide my feelings from them to avoid arguments, but if the tension stretches on indefinitely, especially if I see that person often, it’s hard to feel happy.

Recently I’ve been working on being more open to those around me, finding ways to tell them how I feel without sounding rude or self-entitled, working differences out with a common goal of finding solutions.

For a long time, I nagged my husband at not clearing his things from the dining table, leaving them in a messy unsightly heap. He also couldn’t stand my ‘standards’ of perpetually organising stuff. After some time and quite a few standoffs, we went beyond the bickering and pointing each other’s faults, to sharing openly and honestly why we prefer to do things our own way.

Now we divide the table in half, each of us managing our halves in our own unique way. We do complain sometimes especially when boundaries are crossed, but we argue a lot less about this trivial matter.

You could be holding back from being honest with someone else because you don’t want to hurt his feelings or get into a fight. But keeping it all in may fuel distrust between you and
him, because you both will never understand each other’s perspectives if you don’t talk to each other.

Take the conversation one step at a time, talk about yours and his concerns step by step and build the trust to work towards a common goal.

3. Honesty with your God

How do we pray? Do we always ask for our desires instead of the wisdom to understand why we are lacking?

I am still struggling with this, how to move away from asking God to give me that thing I want ASAP, to really conversing with Him on the difficulties I face and surrendering my fears to Him.

Sometimes I end the prayer early so I don’t get trapped by my real feelings that emerge during the prayer. There are some feelings I just refuse to admit to my God that they still torture me, such as the regret of a painful decision made long ago, my shame at lacking the devotion He wants or the guilt of repeatedly committing a sin which I lack discipline over.

Do you experience the same problem of a self-created firewall between you and your God? Where you self-censor what you say to Him but deep inside you know that He knows?

I think Singaporeans are unhappy because we aren’t in tune with our feelings, and we refuse to admit some of these feelings to ourselves, our family and friends, and to our gods. These feelings are selfish and we feel embarrassed to acknowledge them.

But no one told us to maintain a perfect front. Showing a little bit of vulnerability helps in taking you off the high horse on others’ eyes and making them think you’re one of their own.

Who knows, you may just find that a bit of honesty will drive away your cloud of unhappiness.


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