As I read the third chapter in "Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zone Way" by Dan Buettner my definition of happiness began to shift. As I read about all the people interviewed in Singapore, they didn’t seem to be described with words that I think of when I think of what it is to be happy. They didn’t seem to be joyous, laughing, skipping, or smiling from ear to ear; instead, theirs seems to be a quiet contentment about the quality of their lives and the time they spend with family. The culture is steeped in following authority and the rules exactly. Part of the reason the people will follow the rules is because the Singapore government takes great care of its people. This chapter, entitled "Singapore: Can You Manufacture a Happy Nation?" looks at a country that declared its independence from Britain in 1965 and had to create an infrastructure of a country with three different subcultures: Malaysian, Chinese and Indian people. The architect of this country’s new culture is Lee Kuan Yew and he created a country based on the basic ideals of family and an efficient, orderly and well-educated society. In Singapore the people’s basic needs are meet through education, health care, support for the less fortunate, hard work, and thriftiness. The government, similar to the one in Denmark, addresses the basic needs of the people and creates a small gap between classes. The government also strives to create happiness by creating equality in its people. One of the ways it was able to do this is by having English as the official language of Singapore, but each culture learns their own language as well. For example, Chinese children learn English and Chinese.
What can we learn about happiness in our lives and in our health? It is important to have your basic needs met and to have a culture intact to find contentment in your everyday life.
The next chapter is about the happy people in Mexico. Stay tuned!
Originally published http://www.empowher.com/emotional-health/content/singapore-manufactured-happiness-nation