The Nunchi Method: A Korean Technique for Happiness

The Nunchi method invites us to consider the emotions and needs of others to improve our relationships. Find out what it is and how it can help you here.
The Nunchi Method: A Korean Technique for Happiness
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 01 April, 2023

Achieving happiness is a universal goal shared by all human beings. However, there’s no single path to reach it. Different currents, authors, and disciplines propose their own methods. However, beyond this, on a cultural level, each country also has its own concept of happiness. And also its interpretation of how to achieve it. Discover the Korean perspective with the Nunchi method.

Apparently, Korea is not a nation that is especially concerned about its citizens’ mental health. In fact, the suicide rate is around 26.7 per 100,000 inhabitants (a figure well above the world average of 9.35 per 100,000). Therefore, it may seem surprising that there is an interesting Korean cultural element to add to our daily lives.

However, we are talking about a collectivist society, very focused on the common good and the establishment of social relationships. Undoubtedly, our human connections play a fundamental role in our path to success and fulfillment; therefore, it may be interesting to follow some of its precepts.

What is the Nunchi method?

Método Nunchi: la técnica coreana para ser feliz
Understanding other people deeply can help you to be happier.

The term Nunchi or Noonchi means “eye force” or “eye measure”. Although this literal translation sounds confusing and does not provide much information, it can actually be understood as “the ability to see beyond the apparent and gain a deep understanding of what is going on around you.

It is specifically aimed at social relationships, so it is interpreted as the ability to intuit, perceive and understand the other’s inner world, thoughts and emotions, and act accordingly. It is a concept very close to empathy and emotional intelligence (a construct proposed and popularized by Daniel Goleman in the 1990s).

The Nunchi method is an ancestral Korean practice, present since time immemorial in their collective imagination. It is a highly valued quality that is promoted from early childhood, as it is considered as important as learning to read or write.

In fact, more than a suggestion or a trend, it is a social imperative. It is considered essential to know how to read the emotional world of others in order to achieve success at work and socially, so it is carefully promoted in different areas.

How to adopt the Nunchi method

The Nunchi method invites us to consider at all times that, just like us, others also have their own thoughts, opinions and emotions, and that we must take them into account. It avoids individualistic and selfish approaches, and urges us to look beyond ourselves to understand the perspective of others.

This ability to infer other people’s mental states is part of the so-called “Theory of Mind”. It develops around the age of 4 and allows children to understand that others have their own point of view, different from their own, and to attribute thoughts and emotions to them. It would be something like “I think you think this” or “I think you are feeling this way”.

The truth is that, although it is a natural human ability, which develops as cognitive maturation progresses, it is important to practice it. We don’t always take the time to step outside our own world to focus on and understand the other person. Thus, to do so, we should mainly put into practice the following two strategies.

Attention to non-verbal language

Método Nunchi: la técnica coreana para ser feliz
Not only words convey moods. Pay attention to the body language of the person who accompanies you.

The nonverbal elements of communication offer us valuable and very complete information about what the other person is thinking or feeling. Their body posture, gestures, tone of voice... all of these guide us towards understanding their inner world. Knowing how to pay attention to these signals is an art that we must perfect.

Although this skill is useful in any situation of social interaction, it is especially useful when interacting with children or non-verbal people. When language is not available as a means of communication, these signs are critical to understanding and responding to the needs of the other.

In addition, context must also be taken into account to create the big picture and reach an understanding. For example, if we see a child crying apart from the group, we can infer that he has had a problem with the rest or that he has been rejected and this causes him pain. From this, we can act accordingly, for example by offering comfort or encouraging integration into the group.

Active listening

On the other hand, it is essential to develop the ability to listen, but to do so with dedication and genuine interest. If we listen to people, they often tell us clearly what they are feeling and thinking.

However, we are so preoccupied with our own point of view. We only think about what we are going to respond. Even before we take the time to truly hear and understand. Active listening is crucial when applying the Nunchi method. This is because it is the gateway to that inner world of others we are trying to discover and understand.

The Nunchi method: the technique that helps us to be happy and successful

At this point, you may be wondering how it can help you individually to be quick and accurate in capturing the mental and emotional states of others. Perfecting this art can open many doors for you. The Nunchi method helps us to create bonds of trust. It also helps to relate better to other people and to avoid unfortunate situations.

Placing the needs of others on the same level as our own will help you navigate the social world with ease. It’ll also increase your understanding of their emotions and thoughts. This can lead us to consolidate good business deals, obtain job promotions, and earn the favor and appreciation of others. Therefore, our relationships will be fuller and more satisfying.

In short, the Nunchi method can significantly improve your well-being and bring you closer to achieving your goals. Why not start practicing it?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.