By Kim Rahn
Some 65 percent of Koreans said they are happy and grateful, according to a survey of 1,000 adults by Media Research, Monday, with an average ``happiness score'' of 14.3 out of 20.
Age, sex, educational background, marriage and religion had little influence on happiness, according to the survey, jointly conducted by The Hankook Ilbo, a sister paper of The Korea Times. Instead, the key to happiness was gratitude ㅡ the average happiness level of those who are thankful in their daily lives was 16.6, almost double the 8.9 of those who lacked gratitude.
Thankfulness was a more important ingredient than wealth in making people happy: The happiness level of those having little appreciation was low, between 8 and 10.3, whether they earned less than one million won per month or more than five million won; but the level of those with much gratitude ranged from 15.7 to 17.1 regardless of income.
``Positive psychology, a recent branch of psychology studying virtues that enable individuals to thrive, emphasizes gratitude as a factor for happiness. The theory says gratefulness makes people happier than accomplishment and satisfaction, pleasure, or self-esteem,'' said Kim Joo-hoan, a Yonsei University professor.
In regard to the worldwide economic slowdown, 76 percent said they think the situation was very serious, particularly those running their own businesses and earning less than one million won monthly.
When asked whether they are happier now than a year before, 35.5 percent said yes. Some 50 percent said their happiness level was similar to that of a year ago, while only 13.6 percent said they were less happy.
``It means that despite people have economic difficulty, they are trying to remain happy,'' Kim said.
Respondents were also positive about their ability ㅡ more than 67 percent said they were confident about overcoming difficulty.