Women in 40s are the happiest

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Women in 40s are the happiest

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Women in their 40s were found to be the happiest class in Korea, while men in the same age ranked at the bottom, according to a study of the Korean Psychological Association.

The research team, led by Suh Eun-kook, a psychology professor at Yonsei University, surveyed 1,000 people on their level of happiness. The team created a “Happiness Index,” which quantifies happiness on the basis of 100 points. The higher the index, the happier the person is.

Interviewees graded their feelings on each question, giving higher points to more positive, from one to 10. When asked about “satisfaction with life,” men in their 40s scored the worst.

“Korean men get stressed in work to survive in the competitive world and take responsibilities for families, but they lose interest in anything in their daily lives and just endure day by day,” Suh said.

For women in their 40s, things are completely different. The housewives answered “satisfied” mostly when they are left alone at home during the daytime, when all family members are working outside.

“As kids are growing up to be independent from their mommies, women become more free from house chores and child-care, giving them more spare time,” Suh said.

The analysis indicated that the woman’s ability of expressing positive feelings can make a happier life.

But unlike the emotionally opened women, Korean men have suppressed emotion. In Korean custom, men are socialized not to reveal their sentiments to the public in any circumstances.

“They are strongly instituted to be ‘a real guy,’ strong enough not to cry or laugh even if he wants to,” said the researchers.

Even if the average “Happiness Index” reached 63.22, it does not mean that Korea is a happier country than the average in the world, said the researchers. Referring to the statistics of World Values Survey Association, Korea’s happiness ranked 58th out of 97 countries.

Korea has almost the same level of happiness as Peru, despite its developed scale of economy of $19,504 GDP per capita - about four times that of $4,452 in Peru.

Ed Diener, a psychologist visiting Seoul for a seminar, said Koreans have low satisfaction despite their high standard of living.

“When asked if they had a nice day or not, only 64 percent of Korean answered positive. Even the people of Zimbabwe scored 4 percent more than that,” said Diener.

The researchers said Koreans are concerned too much about what other people think of them, leading to unhappiness. Respondents who valued inner peace of mind were seen as having better relationships with others and stronger self-respect.

“However rich, educated, or hired by a famous company, a person who feels unhappy is living in misery,” said the researchers.


By Bae Young-dae, Shim Sae-rom [balance@joongang.co.kr]

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