The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Are You Feeling Positive … Punk?
February 26, 2009, 6:16 am
Filed under: Comment

So research company TNS have done some work to gauge the level of optimism that various countries around the World feel.

They’ve detailed it by listing the most optimistic and the most pessimistic and I have to be honest, but some of the findings are quite surprising …

Data: TNS

I can only assume the reason Colombia is on the list is because they’re expecting a bumper coke harvest this year … probably because the American economy is so shot, they know there’ll be less Drug Enforcement Officers on patrol. But if that was the case, why isn’t Mexico on there as well?

And Kosovo and Lebanon? What the fuck???

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to appreciate why Iceland is depressed – and if you’ve ever been there, you’ll know it’s not just because the place is bankrupt – but Singapore?

Sure the economy is tough, but those buggers don’t know they’re born.

Great standard of living, excellent facilities, careful financial management, superb infrastructure – in the big scheme of things, what have they got to worry about except the fact they might not be able to buy the latest Prada bag! Seriously, they need a big reality check – especially many of the kids who, as I’ve said numerous times – think they’ve paid their dues simply by going to University.

Getting back to the point …

Let’s face it, what TNS asked – “Do you think 2009 will be better or worse than 2008” – is hardly the sort of heavyweight question that can reveal powerful and groundbreaking insights … plus without any structure, any finding is going to be surceptable to the influence of ‘acts of God’ as well as major levels of ambiguity regarding the feedback, which is why these things annoy me when they’re presented as fundamental fact rather than just a moment-in-time viewpoint.

Saying that, I would genuinely love to know why the people of Kosovo etc are so optimistic …

Joking aside, the fact they’re so optimistic doesn’t surprise me.

Over the years I have found that the countries who have endured greater hardship somehow produce a more optimistic society.

This is not just pie-in-the-sky theory, it is something that many researchers are looking into and Oliver James – a psychologist – wrote a really interesting piece about it in his book ‘Affluenza

Maybe it’s about expectations … maybe it’s about appreciation … maybe it’s simply that they are so low that the only way is up … but in a World where so many people aspire to put themselves in a golden cage, it’s refreshing to know that some people out there still appreciate good ol’ simple pleasures … even if for them, it is the kind of stuff us spoilt and indulged Westerners take for granted.

21 Comments so far
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maybe all the brands in kosovo have fucking smiley logos

Comment by andy@cynic

I call research like this “Heat Magazine” because it’s fun to read but you know it’s pretty superficial and you will have forgotten all about it by the time you go back to the office.

By the way it’s Sarah’s magazine, I wouldn’t buy it.

Comment by Pete

I think you’ll find there’s a direct correlation between these figures and the prevalence of over-selling in those countries.

Comment by John

Excellent point John … which means the negative countries have been exposed to it in previous years and have realised their ‘duping’ whereas the positive countries are still enthralled with the power of ‘gravitational force’ marketing …

… at least for now.

Comment by Rob

The Kosovo answer might have something to do with prolonged peace in the area perhaps… the longer they go without fighting, the happier they are.

Last year many countries oversaw the establishment of a declaration of independence for Kosovo, so perhaps the civilians are feeling optimistic that things are starting to change there?

Comment by Age

Are you the Kosovo president?

Comment by Rob

If I was I sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting in research groups talking about car insurance (wow!!!) for the next two weeks. Not very feeling 60% optimistic at the moment for fucks sake >:(

Comment by Age

Actually, you might be … ha!

Hey, I have a car insurance strat for you if you want it … and it’s not “make it cheap” either!

Comment by Rob

actually the kosovo answer is based in fear and a case of overselling, albeit to one’s own mind.

for the sake of argument,I am willing to assume that the people asked where albanian. serbs either were not aproached or declined to answer, cause that side will give you a 100% “shit is worse than ever” answer.

Now with 25% unemployment, rampant coruption,political fighting, issues on every border, drugs and human trafficking and drying up of funds sent from relatives who work abroad due to economic crisis, the population is giving an anwer based on the fact they have selfproclaimed independence. this is what keeps them still positive.

As for lebanon, fuck me if I know. though with the amount of female beauty that walks around Beirut, I’d be a happy little camper as well..

Comment by niko

Happy little camper sounds soooooooooooooooooo wrong coming from you Niko!

As an aside, you should read McMafia – I think you’d love it.

Comment by Rob

It’s such a shame to see Croatia and Serbia on the pessimist list. Last year I spent time in both and they were massively upbeat about the future. Mind you that last year.

And I spent a load of time in Dubai with a bunch of Lebanese – they have got to be some of the most upbeat people alive, I’ve never meet a more realistically optimistic crowd.

Comment by simon

Hello Simon – how are you? Been a while …

I know what you mean, but given all the events of the last few months, I would imagine quite a few countries had dramatic movement up and down on the ‘optimism’ league table.

Comment by Rob


you are right about them being optimistic places. At least Zagreb and Belgrade (ever been to Belgrade on the boat clubs along the river?)

But they both have a rural population that is just worn out. Who don’t care at all. some research i read estimates 3 out of 4 adults on the balkan suffer from depression and other forms of stress related ilnesses.

There is no middle class. just poor, rich and those wanting to leave. the biggest issue the balkans have is the massive brain drain that is occuring. If kids are the future, then finding ways to keep them is the number 1 issue.

what I find funny is Macedonia. They are on the brink of civil war, so either they asked the wrong people (those wanting to break free) or TNS don’t do it to well.

Mind you it should also be FRY Macedonia. Greece will not find this typo to funny.

Rob, seeing as english is not my native language, that one flew right over my full head of hair 🙂

Comment by niko

lol @ niko… touché.

i’m guessing that lebanon is possibly in a sense of post-war bliss as well. it’s been over 12 months since the israel army have broken the sound barrier over the southern border (and thanks to a spiralling israeli economy, F1-11s might be a little less frequent). i reckon i’d be feeling a bit great about that too.

Comment by lauren

I have three things to say:


In this context, I’m surprised you’re surprised Rob.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

That’s it Niko – start a bloody war on my blog why don’t you. Actually do that, it would be something I’d be able to feel quite proud of.


And Freddie – you are right, blame the jetlag.

Comment by Rob

I think its all relative. If you are starting from a low base (relatively low personal freedoms, relatively low incomes, relatively low feelings of security etc) then even a modest expectation of improvement is grounds for optimism.

But if you are in a society where most things work most of the time then holding on to what you have (let alone improving it) becomes more problematic.

The anomolies are Australia and New Zealand in the optimistic category. What have they got to be so optimistic about? I think in part it is because as societies they havn’t yet learned that big neighbours can invade them; social structures can break down; the world can suddenly turn against them – all these things will happen to them eventually (and have happened already when the British “invasions” trashed aboriginal and Maori societies).

Also not sure why Ukraine is so pessimistic – are they expecting a Russian invasion?

Comment by andrew

is tns working with halibut fisher lately?

Comment by peggy

Hi ya fella, been a while – bloody work followed by half-term in rural Wales with no coverage of any sort other than grass. Better balance now. So make sure you’re interesting.

Comment by simon

You need to see this report mapping out self-confidence across Europe in men, women and countries overall 😛 It’ll surprise you!

Comment by Andrea

Hi Andrew …

I actually disagree – I don’t think it’s relative at all. Of course the logic of what you’re saying is bang on … but the nations that have endured greater hardships in life are not just optimistic about the future, they embrace positivity in almost every aspect of life.

Their level of cynicism is almost nil – despite being let down time and time again – which is defintely out of proportion with what ‘logic’ tells them [and us] what they should be feeling.

Vietnam … a place that has survived 1000 years of war against incredible odds …. is the most positive place I’ve ever visited and the last 5 years have literally been non-stop travel.

It’s not ‘tourism optimism’ as seen in other places like Thailand for example, it is something that has infused deeply within the entire population, even though so much points out that they are not in such a great place.

The secret is that rather than being positive about the possibilities of the future [though that has started to happen with international investment] they simply don’t take life for granted … whether it’s food on the table or getting a book … they think that is a good thing and from there, they believe they can help themselves and their country to a better brighter life.

The issue with the richer nations is that despite all their flag waving at times of sport and war, their focus is on themselves so life is based around fear [of loss] which given the untold riches they/we have, is pretty pathetic all in all.

Comment by Rob

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