The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore

Finding Happiness in a Land of Plenty Posted on 5th Jul 2013, 4:05pm by admin

The topic of happiness has become a focus of research globally. In one global survey by Gallup, Singaporeans ranked the least happy country in the world and the least emotional. In spite of living in a land of plenty, yet there is a quiet discontent and dissatisfaction among our people. It is not that we don’t have what it takes to be happy, it just that we have not programmed our mind to think happy. Research tells us that there are many things we can do to be happy. Most interestingly, many of the things which our Catholic faith teaches actually promote happiness if we realised the
meanings behind the actions.

Research into happiness has uncovered scientifically what makes people happy. In a nutshell, the key elements that promote happiness are

a) Realising your values and living your values
b) Doing meaningful work and contributing to a community
c) Maintaining social relationships and eating with people
d) Developing a deep sense of gratitude in daily living
e) Finding time daily to experience joy
f) Maintaining good mental health and physical health
g) Volunteering and giving to a cause you believe in.

What does the research tell us?

Money does not buy happiness beyond a certain level and this borne by research. Once most of your basic needs are met, more joy can be generated by doing things that inspire you than putting the extra time spent earning more money. Developing a sense of gratitude helps us realise how many good things we have. Our minds are generally programmed to look at what seems like greener pastures beyond and not what we have in the present. Holding grudges and anger generates negativity and forgiving generates peace and joy. Happiness depends on the phase of life. People are happiest in their 20s and after 50 years of age. In fact, based on surveys of over 300,000 people, levels of happiness at 60 years old are similar to that being a young adult. Social ties are important in maintaining happiness and performing meaningful work promotes satisfaction. Finding time to live and express your values contributes greatly to happiness. Lastly, knowing what you want in life will help move you towards a meaningful purpose driven life.

The quiet wisdom of the Catholic Church

Many of the practices and teachings of Jesus and the Church actually promotes peace, satisfaction and happiness. We are asked to give thanks (gratitude), practice charity, forgive, love and have faith that God will provide. We are asked to exist in a community of the faithful (social ties) and contribute to the needy (volunteering). Through prayer and thanksgiving, we acknowledge God in every moment through the existence of life, the cycles of sunrise and sunset and the opportunities that our profession gives us to help people when they are ill.

Promoting happiness in daily life

Start by writing your own eulogy letter. You will find that writing down how you want people to view your life’s work will guide you to make the choices and paths in the present. Remember 3 good things that happen to you daily. For myself, I remember by family and the invention of the air conditioner and one more depending on the day. This helps us to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Experiencing happy moments is a breeze with the internet and youtube provides ample media for us to see happy things. Remember to value your family and friends. Meet up with people who you care for and reconcile if you can with those who have hurt you in the past. Rediscover your values and hobbies and find time to do your hobbies and invest in your health through exercise and a sensible diet. When practiced daily, research has shown that within 8 weeks, levels of happiness and increase dramatically.

This short article is a whirlwind trip through the science of happiness. If you like to find out more about the science of happiness, you can read Flourish by Martin Seligman. To help rediscover your values, you may want to do the Values In Action Survey of Character Strengths at .


~ By Dr Chrisopher Cheok ~

*Dr Christopher Cheok is a psychiatrist in a restructured hospital. Beyond his clinical work helping the mentally ill, his current interest is in promoting happiness and satisfaction through the principles of the science of positive psychology.

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Past Blog Articles

2015 Jul: May You Rest in Peace
2015 Jan: Happy New Year 2015

2014 Dec: A Prayer for Deliverance 2
2014 Oct: Who are you, Where am I?
2014 Sep: A Prayer for Deliverance
2014 May: Behind Those Clothes
2014 Feb: The Red Packet(s)
2014 Jan: God Loves You

2013 Dec: Caroling Reflections of an Expired M
2013 Nov: Scripture Reflection for Physicians
2013 Oct: Hang on. We haven’t beat this thing yet.
2013 Sep: Me and My Ride
2013 Aug: A Gift of Life
2013 Jul: Finding Happiness in a Land of Plenty
2013 Jun: A Beeline
2013 May: Living My Love Of..
2013 Apr: The Healthcare Debate
2013 Mar: A Doctor’s Prayer
2013 Feb: Project Battambang ’12
2013 Feb: Mission Srolanth ’12: To Heal the Heart, with a Heart to Heal
2013 Jan: The Hardest Thing To Say…

2012 Dec: The Lost Art Of…
2012 Nov: Rome Sweet Home – Short Reflections
2012 Sep: He Keeps Falling
2012 Aug: God Decides
2012 July: Am I To Blame?
2012 June: Saving Fragile Lives
2012 May: Ruminations On Love
2012 Mar: The iPhone

2011 Dec: The Red Cross
2011 Nov: Give Thanks!
2011 Aug: Ashes – The Epilogue
2011 July: Charity
2011 July: Ashes
2011 May: Of Angry Birds & Cowardly Mice
2011 May: Notes From Salzburg On Good Friday
2011 Apr: What It Means
2011 Mar: A Job.
2011 Mar: Dear Father…
2011 Feb: Clothes, A Person Doth Maketh
2011 Jan: Wonderfully Made

2010 Dec: A White Christmas
2010 Dec: A Medical Christmas Carol
2010 Nov: Saying Goodbye
2010 Oct: I Am Always With You
2010 Sept: Be Joyful Always
2010 July: Managing Expectations
2010 June: But They Are Our Masters…
2010 June: Driving: A Means of Personal Formation?
2010 May: HO Welcome Tea
2010 May: The Rain
2010 May: A Missed Lunch
2010 May: Man In The Mirror
2010 May: Reflections At The End Of The Day
2010 Apr: Finding God In All Things
2010 Mar: Surely You Put Your Trust In The Lord?
2010 Mar: The Significance of a Name

2009 Nov: Batam: Beyond A Mission
2009 Oct: The Broken Rosary
2009 Sept: Love Note To God, Father
2009 Aug: Let God Take The Wheel
2009 Aug: The Prequel: The One About Graduation
2009 July: The Sequel: The Later Months
2009 June: First Month of HO-Ship
2009 May: “The House of God” by Samuel Shem
2009 May: In The Discipleship for Christ


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