The modern disease

Modern life is a killer. In many ways, the stress it generates is more debilitating than the fear prehistoric man faced trying to evade carnivorous animals.

There is no doubt that contemporary living – in first world societies, at least – offers freedoms and choices beyond anything most people could have even conceived mere decades ago. We are spoilt with a smorgasbord of options that offers us an array of experiences able to satisfy even the most jaded of senses.

Yet we are clearly no happier. The cruel conundrum of this wealth of opportunity is that we have forfeited the wherewithal to actually enjoy it. We are so busy chasing our tails we have forgotten how to have a good time.

This has been borne-out by a recent Gallup survey that takes the annual emotional pulse of people in more than 150 countries. Participants are asked whether they experienced five positive and negative emotions the previous day. These include: anger, stress, sadness, physical pain and worry as well as feeling well-rested, being treated with respect, enjoyment, smiling and doing something interesting.

It is interesting to note how few people actually experience a lot of emotion. Filipinos are the most engaged with 60% getting a kick out of life. Bear in mind, that’s still 40% of them not experiencing much at all.

The Singaporeans are a real worry on this scale. A mere 36% of them get a charge, either positive or negative, making them the most emotionless race in the world. Staggeringly, this has risen from a miniscule 30% last year. Clearly the high times have rolled in during 2012!

What is really fascinating – and which highlights the modern disease – is that Singaporeans readily admit that their ultra-competitive society and way of life spares them no time for emotion.

The social media response of the tiny nation state’s residents was illuminating. Most readily acknowledged that they had no time for feelings and this was primarily due to their way of life. Many said it was a major strain just earning enough to enjoy a quality lifestyle. Just as many said the daily struggle of being immersed in a heavily populated environment effectively shut down their emotional responses.

The dilemma was summed-up by one Yahoo commentator who said, plaintively: “We have everything, and yet we have nothing. No one in this country actually lives life to the fullest; we merely exist.”

At least one Singaporean had not lost touch with her funny side, saying she was baffled that her fellow citizens could be described as emotionless since all of them complain every day. There may be hope for a revival yet!

Acknowledgement: Australian Broadcasting Corporation/Agence France Presse