Have you ever been changed by someone else’s energy or mood, either positively or negatively?

There was a movie called “Life is Beautiful”. It came out in 1997/1998 and I remember watching it and wondering how on earth, the father character managed to keep so positive. He found ways to use humour, endure hardships and spare his children from them, at least as much as possible – and it resonates louder and clearer today. Another one was called “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith released in 2006. Trying to create a life for himself and his son, while being homeless, going through a divorce and still having to be the parent and find the “happy” in a very desperate situation.

So where am I going with all this?

A survey was done in 2021 by the country’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), consisting of 2,996 South Africans aged 16 years and older living in private residences. The data were benchmarked and weighted to be representative of the adult population.

Some disturbing new trends emerged from the survey that showed:

  • a decline in levels of life satisfaction as a whole where 41% were satisfied with their lives in late 2021 compared to 52% in 2014.
  • a downturn in people’s views about what lies ahead in their lives where in 2014, 44% felt their lives would improve over the next five years, but in late 2021, this had fallen to 29%.
  • a growing sense of despondency where older people held more negative views on future life optimism,
  • a declining satisfaction with democracy where up until 2020 there was evidence that South Africans, took a more optimistic view of the future through expressing that life would get better in the next five years.

The survey shows a definite sense of hopelessness and “fed-upness” in South Africans, and here we are in 2023 (2 years later) and I’m not sure if things are any better for us SAFFAS.

It makes me wonder what effect this sense of hopelessness and dissatisfaction has on our children. They must surely hear us moaning and groaning about the loadshedding and the economy and the port-holes and crime etc and how scary it must be for them, to know that they are going to be entering into this hopeless “adult” world over the next few years. What will be left for them?

I’m not saying that we must be ostriches with our heads in the sand, ignoring everything that’s going on, but I am asking us to be mindful of who might be listening and watching our every move. If all we are doing is moaning and groaning about everything, so will our children.

An environment with a more positive outlook and a solutions-driven mindset, is surely more supportive for our youngsters. They also have a lot to deal with in terms of school and peer pressures, academic challenges, their online worlds, cyber-bullying, relationship issues, etc. etc. and on top of all of that, they also have parents who have this “fed-upness” syndrome.

Can we look on a slightly brighter side for a minute…humour me, if you will,

We have the most beautiful countryside with its mountains, rivers, beaches, forests and trails. When last did you experience the outdoors and mother nature at her best?

We have online shopping, which we never really had before 2020…it’s convenient, quick and relatively easy to get up and running and if you shop when and where there are specials, you could end up saving yourself lots of time and money.

We have alternative schooling opportunities which can cater for various learning abilities and interests. Traditional schools are not for everyone, but if your child needs something different, you can investigate online schools, hybrid schools, homeschools, cottage schools, learning hubs and virtual schools. There are more affordable private school options today than ever before.

We are also a lot more aware and accepting of mental health challenges. Whether you are struggling yourself or you know someone who is battling with depression or anxiety, there is help available either online or in-person and regular therapy is supported and recommended.

So why not find your tribe, your community, whether it’s at church, getting involved with a team sport or a hobby like quilting, painting, paddling, wine-tasting..whatever gets you out of your home and somewhere else with people who share a common interest. Don’t stop attending your book-clubs and societies, or maybe find some new ones.

Finally, and probably most importantly, look to spend time with people who lift your mood and lift you up. Feed your soul with encouraging and entertaining material. Stimulate your brain, rather than flood it with more negative and depressing things. If you need to disconnect from social media for a while or for good, do it. Look for opportunities to make a difference for someone else. Find other good people…

Those of us who choose to stay in SA have a chance to spend our time more wisely and maybe create new opportunities, start new business ventures, whatever helps to turn things around for the better. We also want to support eachother… “keeping it local” and all that.

Our kids will either fly off and leave our shores or they are forced to stay and make their own way. We can’t control everything, but we can control our attitude and what we do with our time and who we spend it with. Let’s rather encourage “hopeFULness” and not hopelessness, if not for ourselves, for our kids.

By Dr Phillipa Fabbri


South Africans are fed up with their prospects and democracy: Survey