Published Mar-2022, [No.274]
Subject Condition of Happiness


In a survey of 17 developed countries conducted by the U.S. 'Pew Research Center', a polling agency, the only country that answered "Material abundance" to the question "What makes life meaningful?" is South Korea.

In the average response of 17 developed countries, family is the most important, and three countries do not put family first. Spain answered health, Taiwan answered society, only Korea answered money first. The second and fourth places that people think important are job and friends, but they are not considered important in Korea so they were out of rank. The United States has the largest number of people choosing faith(15%) as a source of life, but only 1% answered that faith is important in Korea, which has many Christians and Buddhists. Even if you go to church, cathedral, and temple diligently, after accepting the survey form, it is our Korean people who respond that money is more important than Jesus and Buddha.

In sports where many Korean athletes win gold medals, such as archery and short track speed skating, 'Korea's No. 1' is familiar. In addition, it is not unfamiliar that BTS recently topped at the Billboard chart and 'Hell' is listed as the most watched drama on Netflix after 'Squid Game', but Korea, the only country that has put material abundance first in the meaning of life, is shocking.

The first value that gives meaning to life worldwide is family (38%), job (25%), and material abundance (19%), but Koreans put place first material abundance and health(17%) and family(16%) are followed. It is a shock beyond common sense that Koreans with Confucian family-centered values from 'after the body is polished, the house is neat, and then the country is ruled, and then the world becomes peaceful' are pursuing the meaning of life from money, not from their families.

While most people in developed countries value spiritual values as their economic power grows, the fact that we are all-in on "materials" seems to clearly show that our society is unhealthy.

Another study that investigates and publishes values at a national level shows similar results in 'World Values Survey',which published the result per 5 years. The World Value Survey consists of two pillars: 'Survival-oriented' versus 'self-__expression__-oriented'. Most countries tend to value self-__expression__, tolerance, and charity more importantly than survival-oriented atmosphere as national income increases.

On the other hand, even when the per capital income was $2,000 or more than $30,000 present, Korean chooses 'survival' instead of 'self-__expression__'. The distributional, survival, and materialistic trends in Korean society are also true in other studies and investigations, and we ourselves seem to be living in a 'very intense and stressful atmosphere' instead of a 'generous and warm heart'.

Specific actions to realize 'material happiness' are also revealed in the sales of related books. Economic and management books topped Kyobo Bookstore's '2021 Best Seller Settlement' with a sales share of 8.5%. This is the first time in 41 years since Kyobo Bookstore opened in 1980, and books for beginners in stocks have been on bestsellers in a row, and virtual currency-related books have been sold more than six times more than the previous year.

Although we are living in the era of 'untact' due to COVID-19, the total amount of desire in Korea seems to be increasing rapidly, and the 'happiness value system' that we have brought so far seems to be shaking to the root. Due to the government's real estate policy fails, it is difficult to buy a house even though we take out a loan, but I am the only one left out by the sound of earning millions of dollars through real estate and making a hit with stocks and coins, causing most of the people to feel like 'crash beggars'.

We've learned how to raise money through investment, but we've forgotten how to live in value, and we know how to protect the physical health in the age of 100, but mental health in life is becoming devastated. It's a world where civilians can go to space, but don't know who lives in apartments in neighbor, and material abundance is increasing, but we're forgetting the happiest moments of our lives.

Asked someone who had a lot of real estate and bank deposits and was obsessed with making money. "Why do you need so much money?" The answer was "To be happy." Asked the chairman of a large company with dozens of affiliates. "What is happiness?" the chairman replies, "I've made money all my life to know that, but I'm still not happy."

Asked to a beggar who is asking help on a cold street that what is happiness. It was a simple answer, "Wouldn't you be happy if you had a meal and a place to sleep tonight?" Chairman Kun-hee Lee, who was the owner of an astronomical fortune of 18 trillion won, passed away after struggling with a vegetative state for a long time. Was he happy as the richest man in Korea? As the Roman proverb says, 'Wealth is like salt water', we humans cannot be happy even if we build wealth for life if possession is a condition of happiness.

In the book 'The Origin of Happiness' by Professor Eun-guk Seo of Yonsei University, we can think of 'another happiness'. Aristotle once affirmed that happiness is the ultimate purpose of life, but from an evolutionary point of view, the author defines happiness as an 'optimized tool for survival' rather than the ultimate goal of life.

Many people sprint to become something in the future, focus only on fancy transformation, and don't think about the many hours that follow. how much you like what you already have has more to do with happiness than how many you have objectively.

In other words, people are focused on 'becoming~' but happiness is in 'being~'. Rather than becoming a daughter-in-law of a rich family, living every day as a daughter-in-law of the family becomes a journey of happiness. You will get it by sprinting to pass a prestigious university, get a good job, and get a promotion, but you will only feel one intense happiness and never get a lifetime of happiness. And just as we don't find evidence that many people with good conditions are much happier in the long run, we should be deeply aware that 'happiness is the frequency, not the intensity, of positive affect' Therefore, the author's conclusion was that the definition of 'a happy person' is not a person who lives with praise from others, but a person who experiences positive emotions (such as joy) more often than others in daily life.

What Professor In-cheol Choi of Seoul National University says, 'Good Life' means a life full of meaning. There are also 'great meanings' such as a sense of purpose for life, calling self-sacrifice and service, but there are also many 'small meanings' that can be found in everyday life.

Personally, getting up early to do light exercises, growing plants, organizing homes, cooking simple meals, reading, listening to music. In Family, playing with children, teaching multiplication table, walking with wife, calling parent. In company, do my work well, cooperate with my team and make synergy, and getting praise or rewards from company. These are so called good life from small meanings.

These things are not obtained from sacrifice myself nor give up the happiness. Just as there is a small but certain happiness, there is also a small and certain meaning.

It makes me think that pursuing a balance between small pleasures that bring happy and small meanings that are not heavy is the best way to move forward to 'Good Life' and 'The Road to Happiness'.

There are many hormones secreted in our body, and if we let the 'happiness hormone' that makes us feel happy, we can become happy by ourselves. It is not difficult to feel happiness if you force yourself to smile and unleash endorphin, take a walk outside in the sun and secrete serotonin, unleash dopamine through self-development and challenging my work, share friendship and affection with my family and unleash oxytocin. In the end, negative thoughts lead to depression, and if you embody the habit of positive thinking and behavior, you can enjoy a sense of happiness.

Every Sunday, I climb Mountain Bukhansan with my friends and talk about what our 'conditions of happiness' are as we get older. The reason for the hike was health, there should be no great difficulties for spouses and children, proper wealth for decent and comfortable retirement, relieve the boredom with work to make money or enjoy the hobby, have friends who actively communicate and socialize.

Although it is a complicated and busy modern life, I tighten the shoelaces of hiking boots once again with the mind of pilgrims who go a long way, feeling the valuable of 'first is heath, second is spouse, third is economic capacity, fourth is have a job, fifth is have friends'.


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