Loup Brefort: The Happiness Equation

July 29, 2013

Loup Brefort B92 Blog

In my final message before I regretfully leave Serbia, I wanted to share some of the deep feelings my spouse and I have developed for your country and our confidence in its future. Indeed, one thing that struck me during my tenure is how self-critical and too often unduly pessimistic Serbians can be. Maybe it is because “happiness = reality/expectations”?

Working hard to improve the reality, but at the same time managing expectations may, ultimately, be the recipe for seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty.

Sure enough, nobody will deny that Serbia has gone through - and continues to go through - a rough patch. The deep scars of the past are still hurting, and the economic reality for too many is very difficult. These are objective factors. But it is also clear that too many wild promises were made, which unrealistically raised Serbian citizens’ expectations, thus inflating the denominator of the equation.

It can be constructive to be critical; it is not to be negative. We live in unusual and extraordinarily difficult times, as evidenced by the crisis in neighboring countries that thought they had finally joined an economic “safe haven.” So, please, let's be balanced in our judgments: give credit when credit is due, but let's not shy away from tough messages when they are needed. In this regard, we seem to have long memories for failures and faults and very short ones for efforts and achievements!

How many would have believed that it would be possible to create an entirely new automotive industrial sector in Serbia, and who is still giving credit to those that had the vision in the first place and, through hard work and commitment, ultimately made it possible? This, in the hard times of today, is driving growth and export in Serbia and has created thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Where would Serbia be if this had not been done? Who knows and who is speaking about this company that employs literally thousands of IT specialists, many of them young graduates, and sell their Serbian-designed high tech software solutions all the way to the city of Vancouver, Canada? Who has ever heard of that dedicated group of individuals that are “moving mountains” with such enthusiasm to capitalize on Serbia’s richness in rare domestic animal breeds to revive the economy of Stara Planina?

Small examples, maybe, but they certainly uplifted my spirits when I otherwise may have despaired of all the other things that should be done and could have been done earlier or more forcefully. So, instead of the above equation, maybe the right one for Serbian citizens should be: “Hope (for a better future) = reality x efforts (to improve it)”?  

Anyway, my spouse and I will very much miss you and Serbia!

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