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[Opinion] Happiness Index

Posted July. 16, 2004 22:16,   


“How to live a happy life” has become a major interest to people nowadays.

Themes like “well-being” or “making one billion won” illustrate how eager people are looking for happiness, and this seems to be on its way to becoming a global trend.

Some people criticize these lifestyles as hedonistic, reflecting the traditional lifestyle based on stoicism and discipline. Philosopher Kant said, “We didn’t come to this world to be happy, but to be responsible.” But his saying doesn’t draw a lot of consensus from modern day people.

As a slogan says, “Don’t be afraid of happiness,” the social attitude is changing rapidly towards a more aggressive pursuit of happiness.

The beauty of happiness is that it doesn’t always follow money. Social Scientist Bonhoeffer said, “Happiness depends on how much one likes his own life. There is no objective measurement of happiness.”

A poor man can be happy and a rich man can be unhappy. An increasing number of people choose to live in the countryside, believing that competition with civilization will only result in unhappiness. However that also is not necessarily true. Just as money can’t guarantee happiness, slowness or simplicity in life can’t guarantee happiness either.

The desire of competition and speed are supposedly parts of human nature. Competitive nature makes us hope that the team we support should win. Bikers love speed because that’s part of human nature.

Happiness is an emotion you only feel when various human natures are satisfied, so leading a slow life can be boring depending on the individual.

There is no ultimate answer to happiness and perhaps that is why happiness is so attractive yet unattainable.

A result of a survey in Seoul shows that happiness indices between Gangnam and Gangbuk didn`t exhibit a large discrepancy. Again we see the example of the unpredictable nature of happiness.

In our society overall, most of the people are unhappy, and that is the reason why we shouldn’t be relieved to know that everyone is equally unhappy, but rather we should make an effort to raise our happiness index.

One of the major roles the government has to do is to enhance the happiness of its people. For whatever reason, pushing people to face continuous turmoil as it has recently is a big mistake of the government.

We should remember that in the 21st century when happiness is a mantra to peoples’ lives, the happiness index is a report card for a government.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorialist. chansik@donga.com