Hong Kong has its stresses, but there are ways to be happier

Hong Kong has its stresses, but there are ways to be happier

We cause our own unhappiness with a relentless search for more money, better jobs and good grades instead of spiritual gains


Hongkongers prioritise money and status over health and happiness. They work so hard that they develop unrealistically high expectations which can only result in discontent.
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

Each year, Heep Yunn School holds an essay writing competition, which involves writing about newspaper articles. This is one of the top three of the junior section.

The article entitled “Hong Kong: a city drowning in its own unhappiness?” (SCMP, September 6, 2015) draws our attention to a sad but true fact that a lot of Hongkongers fail to see: that our pursuit of happiness is dependent on a number of external factors, such as job prospects, salary, and living environment.

In such a cosmopolitan city where people take pride in the vast opportunities for success, we tend to define ourselves by our achievements. But this strong desire to succeed in school and at work has created an everlasting stress in our lives.

Living in one of the most prosperous cities in the world, it is hard to escape from the cruel and gruelling competitiveness of our society, where everyone prioritises career, money, and education instead of happiness, health, and friendship. To survive this mad turmoil of tests and exams, over-protective parents automatically sign their children up for various tutorial and enrichment classes. What’s even worse is that parents were introduced to the revolutionary idea of all-round development with the advent of the new millennium, which prompted hundreds of thousands of anxious mums and dads to enrol their children in all kinds of extracurricular activities. The results of that are mind-blowing schedules which are way too exhausting for adults, not to mention children as young as six years old.

Children are being dragged along the path their parents have chosen for them, pushing them beyond their limits to achieve excellence at the expense of a fun childhood.

We also cause our own unhappiness with our tireless attempts to perfect our already blessed life. Everyone in this fast-paced society yearns for success in business and education as we have an ingrained mindset that excellence can increase our quality of life and help us climb the social ladder. With almost everyone sharing this idea that career excellence changes our destiny, everyone works themselves to exhaustion.

However, the harder we work, the higher our expectations. Eventually our lives are filled with infinite desires and unrealistically high expectations which are often not met. Therefore, we often feel greatly displeased or discouraged, which further hikes the level of discontent in society.

Being aware of this, it is high time that we thought of practical ways to help Hongkongers improve this wretched condition.

As a student, better time management skills are certainly crucial to relieving stress. If your schedule is crammed with too many activities, making you feel suffocated, it might be best to consider focusing on one or two that you particularly like for the benefit of your development and well-being.

For Hongkongers in general, it is of utmost importance that as we strive to achieve the ambitious goals we set for ourselves, we take time to appreciate our accomplishments. Viewing mistakes as life lessons is another constructive way of avoiding unnecessary disappointments - as our Miss Hong Kong Louisa Mak Ming-sze has also stated.

Most importantly, we should learn to be content with spiritual gains, instead of material ones. There is nothing which can replace the satisfaction brought by our family and close friends. These are true sources of happiness that people take no notice of. Only if we seek happiness in the right places can we truly become happier.

To read the other op-eds by Heep Yunn School students:

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
It's time for Hong Kong to redefine priorities


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