Have you ever heard of the Korean term “sohwakhaeng?” Sohwakhaeng, which is a shortened word for “small but certain happiness,” is frequently mentioned as one of the keywords of 2018. The concept was first introduced in a essay by Japanese author Murakami Haruki called “Afternoon in the Islets of Langerhans.” In it, there are expressions such as eating a freshly-baked loaf of bread by hand or letting a cat inside a bed with a rustling sound. From the experiences of Japanese who went through hardships due to the “Bubble Economy,” the term directed attention to a small piece of happiness that can be easily found in daily life. More than 30 years have passed since its first appearance and now, it is being recalled once again to people’s minds. Maybe we are living in a time where hope for a better tomorrow is gradually fading, but we should never give up on being happy. Let’s take a closer look at small but certain happiness.
Small but Certain Happiness Lifestyle
Consumption patterns show tendencies to focus more on filling up one’s own satisfaction rather than to show off. Department stores are paying attention to such psychology of customers who seek small happiness in delicious foods. They are concentrating on food businesses such as good restaurants and opening dining zone, instead of luxury brands. Sales of the self-satisfied products such as games, idols, and character products are also on the rise. More and more people are opening their wallet for their favorite idol or character goods, seeking emotional satisfaction through consumption. In addition, the demand for a variety of “sohwakhaeng items,” like beauty masks, lipsticks, diffusers, candles, and so on is growing as they can be easily purchased for refreshment.
Television programs and movies are no exception. Representatively, “Three Meals a Day” on tvN shows simple formats of playing, working and eating. It is such daily routines that are greatly appealing to viewers. Another such popular program is “Hyori's Bed & Breakfast” on JTBC. Featuring the laid-back lifestyle of Lee Hyori and her husband on Jeju Island, the show was well received by offering viewers a quiet comfort in daily lives. Sohwakhaeng also reminds people of a movie called “Little Forest,” which perfectly captures the change of the four seasons and the richness of nature. It unfolds a life in a rural hometown, cooking and eating seasonal foods and finding small pleasures with family and friends.
Travel has also shown a tendency to go to closer places, rather than putting off large sums of money to visit countries far away. Enjoying a short trip on a weekend as a “weekend getaway,” traveling around in an area less than a mile in size, called “one-mile economy,” or spending a short vacation in hotels are all signs of sohwakhaeng. This is reflecting people’s willingness to take short vacations frequently, rather than longer vacations. Traveling in smaller cities is also becoming a trend. According to one travel price comparison site, Sky Scanner, the most notable increase in frequency of searched locations for the past year include Japan's Kitakyushu
, Haiphong in Vietnam, Kumamoto in Japan, and Quebec in Canada. Already, many people are preferring places that have rustic charm and are more affordable than popular but expensive tourist destinations.
Similar Trends from Abroad
There are several foreign terms referring to lifestyle similar to that of sohwakhaeng. “Aucalme,” meaning “silent or quiet,” represents the way French live in a peaceful state of mind. For example, taking a rest and comfort at places such as cafes, parks, and theaters. “Lagom” is a Swedish word, which means “just the right amount.” It reflects the virtue of moderation and stresses the importance of a balanced life and living in harmony with community. For instance, one would choose to decorate a house by growing plants rather than adorning it with fancy decorations. The Danish word “Hygge” meaning “comfort, warmth, or coziness,” focuses on emotional comfort and stability. It is a lifestyle that involves spending time with loved ones and enjoying a simple life.
Apps in Use
Hobbies and knowledge-sharing apps are also gaining popularity as people seeking their own small but certain happiness increase in number. From apps that link people with similar interests to those that offer various useful pieces of information, let’s find out some of these apps that are in use.
This app offers listings of a variety of classes and activities that are held on a daily basis and not necessarily long-term courses that take several weeks or months. While it is difficult to get through a long course due to expensive tuition fees, Frip enables users to easily take a shot at new hobbies with less burden.
Taling, a shortened phrase for escaping being a slob in Korean, is an app that serves as a platform to share talents. You can not only become a tutor to share your expertise or know-how, but you can also find the course you are looking for It makes sure that talents in various fields are transferred and shared with people in need.
If you are willing to read books but wondering which books to read, why not ask Flybook for help? Depending on the gender, age, and interests factors that users fill in advance, the app recommends just the right book for each individual. It also gives information about reading groups and neighborhood bookstores.
The intensity for relatively bigger happiness may be greater. However, when examined, it requires tougher competition to achieve and higher opportunity cost to bare. There is no absolute standard for happiness. Small but certain happiness shows that we can also grasp happiness by turning our attention to small but worthwhile things in life. Happiness may be just around the corner. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >