UNCERTAINTY. It will be the watchword of 2019. You know the roll call of questions by now. Will Brexit happen? If so, will we leave the EU with a deal? If so, which deal? Will food and medical shortages materialise – and when? Will sterling crash further? Will there be a General Election and will the SNP fight it with a manifesto pledge of seeking a second indyref?

If they win, how will the UK Prime Minister respond and who will that PM be? Should the SNP support a minority Labour government without an indyref2 guarantee and will Nicola Sturgeon alone decide? When will a second indyref happen and might it clash with a People’s Vote? Is that more likely under dithering Jeremy Corbyn or the undisputed queen o’ hinging oan, Theresa May?

In short, is there any point in booking a holiday at all next year when the future of Scotland could be in the balance at almost any time? Add to our domestic list of uncertainties, the wobbly international situation.

Japan’s main stock market index has plunged following a similar slide on Wall Street. Investors are apparently worried about Trump’s government shutdown over the refusal to authorise money for his accursed wall. And never mind stocks and shares – what about Russian expansionism, the rise of the far right, climate change, famine and migration?

Rarely in our lives have so many aspects of our lives been completely up in the air. There is precious little certainty about right now and that feels like a very bad thing. Right?

Well, it depends. I don’t want to minimise for a second the terrible impact of interrupted medical supplies should Britain’s political “leaders” allow a shameful hard Brexit to take place in March.

But what about the bigger question – how will Scots deal with times of chronic uncertainty. How will we get on? Maybe better than we think.

READ MORE: Scotland has just been airbrushed from the whole Brexit process

In 1980, Geert Hofstede wrote a seminal book called Cultures and Organisations, which is still used to compare societies today. While working at IBM as a psychologist, Hofstede collected and analysed data from more than 100,000 employees in 40 countries. From those results and later work, he developed a model for comparing cultures. The entire book makes fascinating reading.

But let’s cut to the chase.

Hofstede examined the tendency towards uncertainty avoidance in different countries or, to put it another way, he measured social tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity. Where a country appears on his uncertainty avoidance index indicates whether its culture makes members feel uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations, which are novel, unknown, surprising, or different from usual.

Now the evidence of recent years might leave you wearily guessing that Scotland might not come out of such a ranking exercise very well (Hofstede’s index only deals with the UK as a whole). While voters north of the Border were unduly affected by the uncertainty created and disseminated by Project Fear in 2014, folk south of the Border cheerfully shrugged off predictions of Brexit meltdown and around half are still determined to leave the European Union despite having no idea whatsoever how that will pan out. Similarly, Northern Irish voters have been able to contemplate a united Ireland – even though that constitutional destination will profoundly change the personal, religious and political identity of almost half the population.

Uncertainty avoidance – it would seem voters in the north of England and Ireland can’t even spell the words, while Scots are still hesitant, pernickety, lacking confidence and desperately seeking the kind of cast-iron assurances this world is in no position to give.

The National:

Scots should look to Iceland for lessons in fortitude

Now, it’s true that disempowering outlooks and dispiriting voices seem to have undue traction here. Watching audiences at screenings of the Nation films this summer, I’ve been struck by the consistent perceived gap between ourselves and the gallus Icelanders who have recently faced down volcanic eruption, near bankruptcy and inclusion on Britain’s terrorism register courtesy of Gordon Brown.

No matter what difficulties are thrown their way, the Icelanders duck, weave and manage to bounce back. Likewise the plucky Faroese (who took on the might of Google and won) and the Norwegians, whose incredible achievement of having the world’s highest GDP is based on high personal taxes and an economy (almost) run as if there was no massive oil wealth fund.

Interestingly, all the Nordic nations are right at the bottom of the uncertainty avoidance index. That is to say, they embrace uncertainty with a vengeance. What exactly does that mean?

Well, according to Hofstede, uncertainty-avoiding cultures try to minimise disruption by adopting strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and believing in a single absolute Truth. They demand people are constantly able to identify themselves and tend to have more doctors and fewer nurses because the most highly skilled professionals are reluctant to delegate. Clean and pure is less important in marketing products than ease, convenience and being ready-made. Humour is generally absent, different is dangerous and people are afraid of folk from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. (Donald Trump’s America comes to mind almost unbidden.) There’s a need for rules even if they are impractical, which cannot be broken even in emergency situations. There’s a lot of formalisation and regulation. Innovations are adopted slowly and people tend to stay in the same job for as long as they possibly can.

READ MORE: Why the SNP are the real opposition to Tory Brexit chaos

Now I realise this sounds like a load of sweeping generalisation. Most social theories do. But scan through the traits associated with uncertainty-avoiding cultures and you’ll see ours is by no means the worst. True – for a small country, Scotland does have a ridiculously over-wrought culture of rules and frameworks applied by distant bureaucracies. But by God we hate them.

Part of the anger felt by Scottish teachers is the application of extremely rigid rules, stifling individuality, local variation and personal initiative as if exercise of these excellent but apparently “disruptive” qualities will inevitably lead to chaos and disaster. Rules may be all around, but at every turn, Scots are making mini rebellions – giving the benefit of the doubt, injecting humour, making personal connections no matter how impersonal the set-up and generally deflating the pompous, uppity or unduly entitled.

In special moments of Scottishness, daft rules are bypassed by mutual cultural consent. That doesn’t always happen. But cheerful disregard for authority is a heck of a lot more common in Scotland than many places, and that’s a big bonus ball our political leaders should play more often and with greater confidence when we have another Independence campaign.

Scotland’s “come all ye” culture tells us we must embrace difference. It’s part of the reason so many voted to remain inside the EU. Acknowledging that does not mean sinking into a complacent “Wha’s like us?” dwam. The cultural defaults at work in Scottish society are either observed – so that all feels well – or ignored at some cost to our individual standards and feelings of social cohesion and national pride.

So which camp is Scotland in?

Do we really crave certainty or are we deep down fairly comfortable with change?

Actually, like most countries, we are a bit of both, erring on the fairly relaxed. Strangely enough, we may well be a fairly cheery bunch after all – borne out by surveys which show that the happiest, most optimistic people in Britain are the Scots who have recently lost two referendums – Remain-voting supporters of independence.

Against impossible odds, Yessers believe our best days lie ahead and regard disruption as inevitable during our transition from a self-harming status quo to a better society. In this process, I’d humbly suggest that the idea we are all “Jock Tamson’s bairns” is a useful and deep-seated societal construct which helps Scots embrace difference far more readily than we might imagine. Embracing difference is part of the recipe for embracing uncertainty. And embracing uncertainty is what 2019 will be all about.

In short, we’ll get there – whatever life and Theresa May has to throw at us – with style, humour and solidarity. So when it comes, have a Guid New Year. And be ready for anything in 2019.