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Image / Self / Health & Wellness

Move over Hygge, this is the latest wellness concept we are all obsessing over


by Amanda Cassidy
13th Dec 2020
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Nunchi (pronounced noon-chee) literally means eye-measure in Korean. It is a type of emotional intelligence that helps you to gauge other people’s thoughts and it has started being used to improve our well-being and connections. Amanda Cassidy discovers the life-changing power of Nunchi.


“Lagom,” I say to my sister.

“Bless you,” she answers, distractedly. No, Lagom, I repeat. We are talking about her work-life balance or lack thereof and I am delighted to introduce to her the Swedish concept of Lagom which has become almost a religion in its own right. It translates as ‘perfect-simple’, and it has evolved into a movement that promotes moderation and balance in our everyday life.

Related: The IMAGE health and wellness guide 

I’d missed the boat on Hygge – the snuggly way of life also made famous by our Scandi neighbours but, ear to the ground, I was determined to catch the latest zeitgeist as early as possible.

That’s when I discovered Nunchi, a Korean concept, with all its untapped potential to change your life. They describe it as the secret to their happiness and success.

Directly translated as “eye-measure”, it is a word that is commonly used to explain how one, tapped into any given situation, can speedily recalibrate your attitude based on information you are given in any situation.

Sounds complicated? It’s really not.

Just imagine it as a type of sixth sense that helps you to master any situation. How to apply it is another story. In her latest book, The Power of Nunchi, Emily Hong explains. “First, empty your mind to lose your preconceptions and observe with discernment. Be aware of the Nunchi Observer Effect, because when you enter a room, you begin to influence and change it. Silent observation is key. If you wait long enough, most of your questions will be answered without you having to say a word.

“We all know someone without a shred of nunchi – those who wade in without reading situations, extracting nothing from nobody”.

Hong uses Steve Jobs as a good Nunchi person. His long stares were famous in meetings. But eeking out every scrap of information using emotional intelligence sounds exhausting.

Social mindfulness

But it is really all about connections: How best to form them to make your life better and to form deeper bonds with the right people. We should view it as a type of extreme tact using non-verbal cues. The rules are pretty simple. Pay attention to the person speaking to you. Don’t look at your phone. Pick up the unconscious signals people give off. Observe body language, mirror their gestures to connect and most of all, listen to your gut feeling.

We all know someone with no nunchi – those who wade in without reading situations, extracting nothing from nobody.

The idea is that with a little bit of nunchi, the world would be a better place. It ring-fences the importance of taking time to use that intuition, becoming more self-aware and using eye contact deliberately, can help boost your influence, give you the confidence to do something you wouldn’t have otherwise, forge new relationships and even overcome social anxiety.

And before you dismiss this as the next biggest fad, keep in mind that Koreans have been using the power of nunchi to solve problems for more than five thousand years – it is so ingrained in the Korean way of life that it is known as a key guiding principle which parents teach their children.

If nunchi is all about respect, eye-contact, and listening to your gut feeling, I tend to agree with the Koreans. Happy Nonchiing!

Image via Unsplash.com

Read more: Why every woman should join the woo-woo club

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