When it comes to stress, affluent people in Hong Kong are among the most laid back in the world. Together with Brazilians, Hongkongers cope with life's demands far better than Americans, Japanese and Australians. This is the finding of a survey of the top 10-20 per cent of earners in 11 countries compiled by American Express and research company RoperASW. The responses of 1,000 high earners in each place showed their stress levels were affected by activity levels, jobs, time with family and personal outlook. Americans, Australians and Japanese are the least able to cope with the demands of their lives, with 66 per cent of Americans reporting feeling stressed several times a week. Only 31 per cent of rich Hong Kongers and 35 per cent of Brazilians said they felt regularly tense. Pressure to perform and produce appeared to drive the stress levels in the worst affected countries, said Vijay Parekh, president of Amex's international consumer business. Those who get tense are busy people spending more time in work and leisure activities than their less stressed counterparts. The survey found that rich Japanese spent 14 hours a week doing housework, compared with only six hours by the affluent in Hong Kong. Even leisure seems to create stress: Americans are busy pursuing recreation 21 hours a week, compared with the more relaxed Brazilians, who devote 18 hours a week. A positive outlook seemed to be important, with high optimism about personal fortunes related to lower stress levels.