The recent Gallup survey has ranked Singapore as one of the top ten most pessimistic countries in the world. Are Singaporeans really that pessimistic as what Gallup suggests?
Survey may not represent the whole country
Whether the size of the respondents is large enough to represent the entire country; or whether certain demographics that can represent the majority people in the country such as the working class or students are selected; and what kind of emotion the respondents were experiencing at the time of the survey plus many factors; can affect the results of the survey.
Just like what Gallup has mentioned in its technical disclaimer, I quote, "It is also important to note that some ratings may reflect cultural differences and may not be tied to real expectations of negative or positive experiences in the future."
We are Realistic
In my opinion, Singaporeans are being realistic rather than pessimistic. The question of seeing yourself being better off or worse off 5 years from now may be a little bit hard to answer. This is because 5 years can be considered long for some of us, especially if we want to be realistic with ourselves and our current situation. However, if the time is 6 months, a year or 3 years, perhaps the result may be different too.
Pessimism and Optimism are Changing Perspective
We are humans, we have feelings, emotions, ups and downs. Sometimes a person may feel pessimistic and unhappy by things and circumstances happening around him or her; and sometimes the same person may also feel optimistic and happy as well! So pessimism and optimism is simply perspective that are constantly changing in a real person's life.
Gallup Survey May Also be True to a Certain Aspect
However, we also cannot say that the Gallup Survey is 100% untrue either. They might be right to a certain minority aspect. According to recent statistic by Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), the number of suicide cases in Singapore has risen by 29% from 2011 to 2012.
This may mean that there is a group of people in Singapore who are living in consistent pessimism and thinking that there is no future in life. This group of people needs our help badly. We need to help them get back their optimism before it is too late; they can be people we know such as our friends, colleagues and loved ones.
Here are 3 suggested ways to be optimistic:
1. Control the Environment, Don't Let it Control You
In other words, we do not let ourselves being defeated or affected emotionally by negative things around us. We have to be responsible for our own lives. Do not let situations or let other people to control what you think and stop you from doing things you want to do in life. You are the one who is responsible for shaping your own future. So, change within yourself positively, so that you can influence the environment to go in your way.
2. Find Your Calling
Everyone has unique potential talents which they can contribute greatly to society and the world. Some of us may not be good academically but this does not mean we are not good at all. This is because we can be talented in other areas such as writing, dancing, music, cooking, retail, sales, doing paperwork and many more.
Talent comes from a strong passion to learn, to apply what you learn and then to teach others about what you are good at. I myself failed my General Paper during my A level examination many years ago and I did not further my studies after that.
But that does not stop me from self learning, working hard to do my best in society, writing my books and also teaching other about the things I am good at. It is all about finding your inner calling and that is it.
3. Help Others
When you help others, you will somehow realize that your problem is no longer a problem. Why is it so? This is because you do not have the time to think about your problem as you are constantly thinking about helping other people solving their problems. Moreover, as you help others, you will soon realize that they are people who have problems much bigger than yours.
Realistic Optimism is more Important
Last but not least, we can conclude that being optimistic is much better than being pessimistic. However, we cannot be zealously optimistic. An example of zealously optimistic person is someone who is so optimistic and confident that he or she will think that they not be hit by a running vehicle while crossing the traffic blindfolded.
The example use is rather extreme but there such people do exist today. Hence, let's be realistic and optimistic instead. So that, we can lead better lives while helping others to achieve theirs as well.
And to Gallup, we are not pessimistic lah.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Jacky Tan is a professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of 'Social M - How Your Startup Can Take On the Big Boys'. Jacky leads the boutique marketing communications and branding agency, Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd. He specialises in the creation of successful branding, content marketing and pr strategies for companies of any size.