What does happiness mean to you? Catchily titled "Are Singaporeans Happy? Understanding the Meaning of Well-being", the fourth instalment of the Conversation Starters panel discussion on 29 March 2017 saw an overwhelming interest from a diverse crowd of more than 100. Organised by Singapore University of Social Sciences and the National Library, the event featured moderator Associate Professor Ng Wei Ting from School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) and a panel of "happiness experts" – SASS faculty member Associate Professor Susan Xu, Associate Professor William Tov, Psychology Professor at Singapore Management University, and Dr Lim Wei Shyan, Senior Resident in the National Healthcare Group Psychiatry Residency Program – who dealt with the perennial issue from multiple perspectives.
Key takeaways from the discussion and Q&A segment include the ways in which language, culture and personality traits affect one's understanding of happiness, if and how happiness can be measured, and how non-material factors contribute to well-being. While Singapore generally ranks high in global surveys on happiness and well-being, the discussion serves as a timely reminder that keeping up with the Joneses may not necessarily make one happier. So if happiness eludes you, you are unlikely to find it in the next big-ticket item you acquire.
The panel of happiness experts (left to right): Associate Professor Susan Xu, Dr Lim Wei Shyan, Associate Professor William Tov and Associate Professor Ng Wei Ting.