Saturday, July 28, 2012

In Copenhagen: a Dane asked me what is ‘Happiness’?

Trivia: Did you know that the Danes are the happiest people in the world? Use google please for more info =)

It was a sunny day in Copenhagen with sporadic passing clouds. I wanted to enjoy my afternoon in the city with a glass of wine while people watching, something that is always in my agenda when I am travelling. Luckily, I found an available table at the outdoor terrace of the strategically located ‘Café du Norden’ on Stroget and Kongens Nytorv (the Kings New Square). Here, I met Bj.

That is Bj at my back before we actually met and had a chat.

Bj is in his 50’s, lives in Copenhagen and works in the finance industry. He is married and has a daughter. He’s basically spending his afternoon chilling out with a beer in the city while his wife and daughter went to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a unique open-air museum located by Oresund, about 42 kilometres north from the capital city. It is the same museum that I wanted to visit that same day, however, I wasn’t feeling very well so I decided to stay in Copenhagen instead.

We didn’t really talk about the Danish being the happiest people in the world or Denmark being the happiest country. We talked about Copenhagen and what brought me to the city. Then we further talked about travel. We talked about our jobs. We even talked about Christiania. Our discussion went deeper and we talked about life. About happiness.

Different people have different thoughts about what happiness is and what it means to them.

He asked me, ‘So, what is happiness to you?’

To me, happiness is relative. It is something of personal nature. The character, the personality, the person’s personal circumstances and the stage in life this person is in, will determine how that person will view and understand happiness.

Happiness to a 16 year old is different to someone who just recently graduated from university. Moreover, someone who is between 25 and 30 years old, who thinks he or she can conquer the world, will have a different view of happiness compared to a person in his or her mid to late 30’s who have other factors in life to consider, i.e. children, a more stable job, etcetera. When we reach our 40’s, our take on happiness will be different as well—I know this personally because I am at this stage currently. I am sure that reaching our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, another state of happiness will enter into the picture.

With that, I believe that happiness is a state of achieving contentment, which is a continuous and evolving process throughout the stages of our lives.

If I look back at what made me happy before, it humbles me big time. I have gone so far in life. So I try to hold on to these snippets of my bygone days to keep my feet firmly on the ground. I try to be grateful each day and to always go back to the basics.

I can honestly say that I have gone past the material happiness stuff. I do not anymore feel the nagging need to constantly prove myself, to be accepted by others, to be number 1 at work and to be the best at whatever situations and circumstances I find myself in. Importantly, I have learned that happiness is something that we ultimately can control and can decide.

Right now, what makes me happy are my travels-discovering the world and being with the Dutchman.

View on Kongens Nytorv, the Kings New Square.

Another picture of me and Bj before we actually had the chat.

The afternoon went fast and before we knew it Bj and I have to part ways. His family will be home anytime soon and they are expecting him for dinner while I am faced at the challenge of finding a restaurant.

I thanked Bj for his time and for the thought-provoking discussion we shared.

Now it’s my turn to ask you—What is happiness to you? What will honestly, at this very moment, make you happy? Will you go for it?

Travel Period: April 2012
Destination: Copenhagen, Denmark

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