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UPDATED: March 12, 2012 NO. 11 MARCH 15, 2012
Finding Happiness
Young and old, experts and average people, join in the search for happiness in a rapidly changing China
By Tang Yuankai

WINNER'S SMILE: Niu Weiwei (center) poses for a photo with the judges—Michael Holm (right) and President of the Scoop Models of Copenhagen Bente Lundquist, after winning the title of Ms. Happiness in Beijing on January 11, 2012 (SHI GANG)

In February, Niu Weiwei, a 19-year-old Chinese woman, was invited to Copenhagen in Denmark to experience Danish happiness and deliver the Chinese understanding of happiness to the country as well.

Niu is from Shenyang, capital of northeastern China's Liaoning Province. She won the title of Ms. Happiness after defeating thousands of competitors across China.

As the winner, the young woman, who was studying fashion and design at Shenyang Normal University, secured a contract with the Scoop Models of Copenhagen, a famous Danish model agency. Also, she received guidance from the company's president Bente Lundquist, and a training opportunity.

It was the first time for a foreign fashion company to select its spokeswoman in China through competition. "We want to exchange the understanding of happiness with the Chinese people through this activity," said Lundquist.

View on happiness

"Face everything with a smile. Conquer everything with effort. Make everybody around feel my happiness." This was Niu's declaration of happiness. She is determined to honor the declaration with concrete actions.

"I am a typical Chinese girl. Family is the essential source of happiness. It is the driving force behind my every effort. My mother suffers from heart attack. I will never leave my parents," said Niu while answering questions during the selection.

Her words found sympathy with the audience. "I haven't seen my parents for nearly a month, because I have been constantly away for business trips," said Hu Dongdong, a spectator of the competition. Hu, 38 years old with a high salary, a wealthy husband and an adorable son, leads a life that most people of her age envy.

But she never thought about whether her family was happy. She was busy working every day but forgot real happiness came from family getting together.

Currently in China, there are many people like Hu, who seem to have it all but are not happy at the bottom of their hearts.

"I used to be eager to get rich so that I could create a better life for my parents and my child. I sacrificed a lot. Finally, I succeeded. Now I am able to give them the best living conditions. But I found out what really makes them happy is spending more time with me," said Ye Zhujun, manager of a foreign-funded company in China.

According to a report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in October 2011, the Danish citizens were the happiest across the world. China ranked the eighth.

Surveys on feelings of happiness have been conducted at times. But the results were not always as expected. Rises in commodity prices, high housing prices and corruption were the major reasons for the public dissatisfaction.

A new course

Since many people are anxious about seeking happiness, it is a good time for scientists to make academic breakthroughs by presenting great solutions.

At the Antai College of Economics and Management of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, researchers are trying to explore the impact of rapid economic and social development on the level of happiness.

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