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Count your blessings, Beijingers

By John Clark (China Daily)

10:05, July 19, 2012

What's the matter with Beijingers? Why are they so miserable? The reason I ask is because a survey has revealed that 56 percent of Beijing citizens claim they are unhappy.

Only 23 percent admit they are happy, 2.5 percent say they are very happy and a paltry 0.08 percent of Beijing folk admit to being "extremely happy".

Now, I don't want to sound like a patronizing foreigner, but I think Beijingers have to wake up and smell the coffee. Good grief, things could be much worse.

You could live in Britain, jobless in a double dip recession. You could be reduced to watching on TV an Olympic games the country can't afford and few punters can buy tickets for. And even if you get hold of tickets, the public transport system can't cope.

Worse still, you could live in Athens, a once-proud Greek civilization, where more than half of young people aged 18 to 25 are out of work and where respectable men and women have been forced to line up at soup kitchens.

But before I count Beijingers' blessings, let's see why they are such unhappy people.

Professor of psychology Wo Jianzhong from Beijing Normal University carried out his happiness survey between March and June. The respondents were aged between 20 and 79, from all 16 districts and counties in Beijing.

The survey found that eight factors largely influenced people's happiness. They were income, living conditions, environment, health, job, education, marital status and sex life. Food safety was the biggest worry and cause of stress for Beijing families.

Other factors which caused psychological pressure included economic conditions, the fast-changing society, education and natural disasters.

Age was relevant too. Young people aged 20 to 29 were generally the happiest group. Wo explained that they are more ambitious about their careers and lives, have self-confidence and hope for the future.

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