Stressed-out Singapore prepared to welcome its happiest person on Thursday at a conference that aims to make people feel better.
The aptly named Philip Merry, chief executive of consulting firm Global Leadership Academy, began his search for the most cheery resident last month.
The winner -- dubbed "Singapore's Happiest Person" -- was to be announced at the end of the two-day New Science of Happiness and Well-Being Conference, organised by Merry and his wife.
It seemed like a grim task after a poll by advertising firm Grey Group found that nine in 10 people living in the city-state, Southeast Asia's wealthiest economy, said they were stressed.
The contest called for written nominations, between 300 and 1,000 words, explaining why the candidate is a "model of happiness," Merry said. Nominees had to be 18 years or older.
A surprising 207 entries were received, Merry said.
"I literally thought when we launched... 'are we going to get anybody?' Not only did we get 207 stories but we've got such fantastic stories," he said.
"There is a lot of happy people that we just don't talk about or recognise." Nominees were whittled down to four finalists including Stella Fernandez, 43, a porter at a local women's and children's hospital, Ng Chai Lee, 61, a record-keeper at a government polyclinic, and Andy Goh, 35, a manager.
All the finalists had a "common denominator" in that they were comfortable with themselves, said John Bittleston, one of the judges.
The fourth nominee was Zaibun Siraj, 61, a training consultant at a local polytechnic who recently published her own book, "Zany, Zeal, Zest and Zing: The Z way to happiness."
"It's the little things in life, such as taking a walk, giving a gift and being with friends, that bring happiness," Zaibun told reporters.