72 percent of adults preferred a quiet life over an exciting one, according to a 2020 Gallup poll conducted in partnership with Wellbeing for Planet Earth.
At least 1,000 people were interviewed from each of the 116 countries and territories examined. Participants had the opportunity to say that they would prefer a quiet life, an exciting life, or a quiet and exciting life. The results were then categorized by regions with the highest percentage of participants who said they preferred a quiet life.
East Asia ranks highest with 85%. Latin America ranks second with 82%. The United States and Canada lost 75%. It is followed by Australia and New Zealand with 73%; Eastern Europe reported 71% and Western Europe 68%.
Tim Lomas, lead researcher at Wellbeing for Planet Earth and a contributor to the study, said the pandemic has created an atmosphere of unprecedented stress and anxiety, which may have contributed to the high proportion of participants who prefer calm.
“The idea of going out and trying something exciting seems risky,” Lomas said.
William Van Gordon, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Derby in the UK, said that while people seek stability, they often resort to emotions that make them feel grounded. He did not participate in the survey.
While the survey did not examine why some areas rank higher than others, Van Gordon believes finances could be a factor.
He said that more people in East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea, where respondents often prefer calm, are more likely to have material wealth that can bring comfort, but sometimes at the expense of calm.
South Asians had the lowest percentage of participants who preferred calm at 56%. Van Gordon stated that countries in this region, such as Pakistan and India, have more low- and middle-income families and “the excitement and benefits that this can bring are likely to be of greater value”.
Ways to bring Zen into your life
It is easy to say that you want a quiet life, but it is much more difficult.
She said it was important to build and maintain close relationships with emotionally healthy people. “It can provide a stable base for your exploration of the world as an individual and a safe haven to return to when you need a break,” she added.
Stability also plays an important role in keeping calm, she said, so people should also follow a healthy regimen of sleeping, eating, exercising, and more.
Perception of breath can connect your mind to the present moment, so Van Gordon recommended stopping at least three times during the day and focusing on the inhale and exhale for five minutes.
Van Gordon said that excitement is a short-lived emotion that depends on what happens to you externally, like riding a roller coaster. It is unstable because humans cannot control what happens to them.
“On the other hand, calm can be developed no matter what happens outside,” he said.
He found that the two feelings are not separate and can complement each other if one lives a quiet life.
Van Gordon said, “The present moment is full of exciting and wondrous things that can be fully enjoyed even by the present mind and calm enough to be aware of it.”
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