The will to happiness

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Shin Min Daily News, 9 Mar 2024, The will to happiness (translation)

Shin Min Daily News, 9 Mar 2024, The will to happiness (translation)

Last October, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Lawrence Wong shared the main findings of the “Forward Singapore” report: Singaporeans’ pursuit of a better life is not about the material pursuit of the five Cs; they also care about satisfaction and happiness, that is, the pursuit of meaning and purpose in life.

The will to happiness can be defined as a person’s life goals and the desire or determination to pursue these goals. Having a positive mindset to be happy is a defining characteristic of mental health. Researchers Asharani, Lai, Koh, and Subramaniam stated in 2022 that having goals can serve as a motivating force that prompts us to adopt healthy behaviours, thereby helping us achieve positive mental health outcomes. In addition, researcher Pinquart conducted a systematic review and analysis of 70 studies related to a happy mindset in the same year and found that education level and social integration are the strongest predictors of happiness among the elderly.

Education facilitates exposure to a variety of interests and meaningful activities, and obtaining a high level of education can prevent the decline of one’s willpower in old age. Educational achievement typically elicits positive emotional experiences and positive cognitive evaluations of past lives.

In compliance with the SkillsFuture programme launched by the Singapore government, we should seize this opportunity to continue to pursue new knowledge and skills. As the saying goes, “One is never too old to learn. Life has limits, knowledge has no limits. Do not be afraid of a shallow foundation in learning. It is never too late as long as you take the first step.”

As for social integration, while a person’s social network generally decreases as they grow older, there are less changes for emotionally close relationships. This may be due to people tending to seek high-quality emotional relationships in their old age.

Having good quality social relationships means that there is more likelihood of engaging in meaningful activities. Having strong and extensive social relationships also provides older adults with a broader social network, helping them to cope better with the social losses that come with age.

Some studies (such as the Harvard Adult Development Study published by Waldinger and Schulz in 2023) have found that strong social relationships are closely related to meaning and purpose in life, living a good life, and achieving happiness. How can we help people strengthen their social connections? Relationship experts tell us that the key is the amount of time we spend with the people we care about, both in terms of quality and quantity. Therefore, when we are with family and friends, remember to turn off the phone or eliminate other distractions and focus on establishing a close connection with them.