- Publish On: 31 August 2021
- Author: GP Tuition Simon Ng
Life in the modern world is often seen as progressive as we are bestowed with advanced technological development and infrastructures that have made our lives more comfortable, convenient and conducvice for living, shaping many to feel that the world today is really a happy place to live in. However, if we observe closer at the lives of many dwellers in urbanized cities and developed countries, we will not be surprised to hear a less optimistic and more negative view about their sense of happiness. In view of these diverse opinions, this essay is more inclined to the view that the world today is really an unhappy place to live.
For those who are fortunate and live a blissful life, it is quite logical for them to feel that the world is a happy place to live in as they are enjoying the luxuries and comfort of life. They live in the modern era where food is easily accessible if they have the financial means and comfort and safety of their community can be achieved with efficient and advanced infrastructures. Technological advancement has allowed the masses to travel more often, enriching our lives with diverse experiences while the advent of smartphones and social media have provided new forms of entertainments that make life more interesting and less boring. Some are also blessed with good health, talented attributes, more advantaged family environment and cordial and close-knitted relationship. These fortunate developments in the lives of this small group of people in this world will shape their view that the world is a happy place to live in as the various levels of needs in their lives as identified by psychologists like Maslow can be satisfied. When your needs and expectations are met, one will feel hopeful and you will be able to have the capacity to create the ‘good life’ as identified by positive psychologists like Martin Seligman.
But such an explanation holds a modicum of truths as not everyone is blessed with such good fortunes or are capable to create ‘the good life’ as life in a modern world is demanding and complex. The comfort and affluent lifestyle does not come cheap and this may be beyond the affordability of the average Joe as 69 of the major cities have higher consumer price index in 2012 as stated by Unhabitat, a research firm. Rising global food prices and resources like oil has contributed to extensive rise in cost of living which will add on the economic burden for the lower income earners whose wage will not be sufficient to sustain their living. This will add pressure on their lives as they need to work longer hours or additional jobs to sustain their living, cutting their time to rest and spend times with their families. We observe how many city dwellers in city like Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and other major cities complained over housing issues, rising food and transport prices which have made life financially unbearable, shaping the view that the contemporary society is indeed an unhappy place to live in.
Life is also filled with many uneventful and unfortunate moments as we grow older, subjecting us to failures, separation, disappointments, upsets, complexity and crisis and all these adversities will give rise to greater hardship that makes our lives difficult and unpleasant to live. Not everyone is fortunate to be blessed with the mental acumen and social and family supports that will enable them to overcome these inevitable mishaps in their lives and many will succumb to them and fall into a state of depression or despondency that will make life unhappy and unbearable. As reported by Today, the national suicide for Singapore has risen from 8.13 per 100000 residents in 2010 to 10.27 in 2011. There are also a rising number of patients seeking for treatments in Institute of Mental Health. On a whole, our social tensions are rising as life becomes more challenging, creating a dispirited and abject environment. Life cannot be happy and rosy with this bleak mood.
Our world is indeed an unhappy place to live when there is higher degree of competition created by growing population, greater global connectedness and depleting scare resources that will demand individuals to strive to win in this economic competition for resources and benefits. Students now have to compete for limited spaces in education institutions from kindergarten to tertiary places on merit or economic capacity while workers compete for employment and business opportunities for advancement and economic gains. Consequently, people will now have less time, energy and resource to devote to intrinsic development in their lives like social interaction, hobbies and leisure to cultivate a holistic lifestyle with meaningful purposes and amiable relationships. Instead, life has become tensed, trivialized and confrontational as we need to combative and aggressive to survive in a highly competitive environment. This is evidently seen in mega cities like Singapore, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai where many are seen to be unhappy souls in social surveys about their life. Under such competitive ethos, we can never live a happy life.
As for those who are living in less developed state with rural and improvised background, the world is even more unhappy place to live in as life is tough as they fight against perilous natural difficulties and social and cultural backwardness. Life in these backward or rural regions are deprived of modern amenities to raise their comfort of lives and opportunities for personal and social development are deplorable, forcing many youths to sought life in the city which is equally tough but more hopeful for those who feel bleak in the rural regions as evidently seen in the growth of population in many urbanized cities in China. For these rural folks in less developed nations, employment opportunities are scarce and they are also undermined by dogmatic rural values that may lead to social and gender discrimination where girls are deprived of equal opportunities and rights. Although some may argue that simplicity is the way of life towards happiness, it is never easy to live in ignorance, deprivation and aimless as life is simply too simple to live and thus, a place in this world cannot be happy for the less connected and deprived.
Although the current world political development may have democratized and empowered the individuals with rights through revolutions, legislatures and the proliferation of the mass media, part of the world still experiences political suppression and restraint which will make their world an unhappy place to live in. In many less developed states, the people are living in autocratic states like North Korea and Syria, who are experiencing fear, suppression and restriction. Deprivation of freedom and rights to access for basic resources and equal treatments will definitely shape the world to be an unhappy place to live in. In these states, the absence of democratic and effective governance will give rise to political instability, civil wars and rampant crimes which will threaten the lives of the people. Life in a perilous environment where one is oppressed, and life is threatened will not create a happy environment to live in. Ask the people in Iraq, Somalia and Syria, they will agree to this.
In retrospect, we indeed live in an unhappy world. As we grow older and our world develops, we face with more complex and challenging changes that will lead to more mishaps and misfortunes, shaping our world to be disheartening, dreadful, intolerable and calamitous. However, life goes on, bearable or unbearable, we must continue living and we can shape our mindsets to make our lives as happy as we can. Though we cannot change the world to make it a happy place for us to live in, we can still shape ourselves to become happy people to live a happy life in this unhappy world.
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1. Can we make our world a better place to live in?
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