We’re way below our closest neighbours, Malaysia (40th) and Indonesia (73th), when it comes to well-being, having come in 97th.

Such are the results of the latest Gallup poll on global well-being.

The scary revelation of this poll, which was done by telephone and face-to-face interviews, is how Singaporeans are well-off but have no sense of purpose in life.

We’re ranked 111 for “purpose” and 9 for “financial”.

-You like what you do every day.
-You learn or do something interesting every day.

-You have enough money to do everything you want to do.
-In the last seven days, you have worried about money.

Maybe it’s the numbing effect of all those Korean dramas (damn you, Da Chang Jin), or even Candy Crush, but it’s pretty scary to see such a trend.

We’re constantly told by the government to increase productivity, or face the threat of joblessness and salary cuts.

Amongst peers, comparing material items and trying to go one up over the others is common (maybe only Maj-Gen Chan Chun Sing dares to wear his Casio watch in public and be photographed).

Even communications minister and minister for Muslim Affairs, Yaacob Ibrahim, when comparing the plight of Singapore Malays, chooses to describe them solely in economic terms.

This was Yaacob’s response to Malaysia’s law minister, who said he admired Malays in Singapore.

“The quality of life for the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore has “improved tremendously” compared to 50 years ago. Malays are now homeowners, we have a better educated population, wealth has been increasing in the Malay-Muslim community and we collected more ‘zakat’ last year compared to previous years. By and large, the state of affairs of the Malay-Muslim community here is quite good.”

Yaacob’s response is pretty telling: It’s always about amassing more and more money, isn’t it.

That’s life in Singapore, as we know it.

What we should look at as Singapore progresses beyond 50 years of existence, is perhaps better social integration, and development of our unique Singaporean identity and culture.

That’s building a Singapore that our children can recognise and call home, wherever they may be in the world.

That gives us purpose, beyond just grasping for more Yusof Ishaks every day.

It’s time to stop being just mere economic digits in a machine that only wants to churn out more economic digits to feed itself.

You can’t take all that money to your grave.

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