Well the Vietnamese are happy people, a new United Nations survey has informed, but it is something we know already.
Well those international guests who live in this country that is. Just look around you.
When any expatriate is asked about his or her life in Việt Nam the first thing that leaps to the front of their head is how happy the people are.
This could be a typical conversation back in your home country.
Friends and family ask:
‘What is Vietnam like?’
‘Great, full of lovely people.’
‘What are the Vietnamese people like?’
‘Happy and friendly.’
‘Are they rich?’.
‘No, far from it, most people are poor but the one thing that differentiates the Vietnamese from other nations is they genuinely make the best of what they have and enjoy life to the full.’
At that point the conversation ends because other people can’t see it and the interviewee is getting too carried away with his or her love for Việt Nam.
Your friends/family think you are being polite because they live in nations where all people talk about is what they don’t have, instead of appreciating what they do have.
Moan, moan, moan…
They can’t see it because they maybe can’t believe that poor people can be so happy.
Now, not all people in Việt Nam are poor but it is the vast majority.
You can bet your bottom dollar that if you meet someone in Việt Nam who has an optimistic manner with a spring in their step, they are locals.
I think this positivity rubs off on most expats who seem happier in Việt Nam than international guests I have encountered in other places in Asia, who can be a miserable shower at times.
Of course there are some people who are never happy wherever they are and however lucky they are, always wanting something more, a bigger car, a bigger house, more expensive clothes, nicer watches or phones, but this happiness factor always eludes them.
Not even the friendliest of locals can change these guys I’m afraid.
Going to back to the figures, the Vietnamese are the 63rd happiest people on the planet in a 156-nation survey on real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.
With neighboring countries in Asia placed as follows:
Thailand (36), Singapore (30), Philippines (92), Cambodia (140), Myanmar (121), Malaysia (56) and Laos (109).
Japan and China placed 43 and 93 respectively.
I reckonViệt Nam should be far higher from what I have witnessed in my time here.
The ‘happy’ top five includes Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and Sweden, according to the survey conducted between 2010 and 2012.
This seems surprising with all the cold winter nights with very little sunlight the Scandinavians have to face.
Maybe the reason they are so happy is because they seek solace in a bottle of whisky.
To be fair the Scandinavians are a bit more upbeat than most, as are the colorful Dutch.
As for Việt Nam, expatriates reading this must know how irresistible this place becomes after a short time.
You have to live and breathe the place you live in to try to even get a little grasp on it.
There are some things about Việt Nam that we can’t explain, and we certainly sometimes scratch our heads when we are having a bad day and see friendly smiles from a group of strangers who are genuinely so pleased when you say hello to them.
Even a few broken lines of Vietnamese will have them giggling for a few minutes.
If you are feeling blue at that moment, suddenly you have a spring in your step.
Maybe the cure for depression in Việt Nam is not medication or therapy, but talking to a group of Vietnamese.
Worth a try and cheaper than medicine.
Next time you see a group of Vietnamese sitting down for food or drinks or walking around downtown, just watch their expressions as they are having the time of their lives.
More often than not if you are alone, they will invite you to join them and you never know their happiness and optimism might even rub off for the night or a longer period.
There must be something in it, the figures speak for themselves.
Don’t worry…. be happy!
By DEREK MILROY