The Danes are pretty obsessed with the fact that they are supposed to be among the “happiest” people in the world. (Is that true?) But the big question of course is how do we measure happiness? When it comes to measuring happiness, many countries in Europe are now planning to introduce a national “happiness” standard or measuring system.
In connection with this, Danish National Radio invited a group of so-called “experts” to talk about Danish happiness and how we measure it. I was also invited to give my comments because many of my books such as “Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life” deal with this subject!
In order for Denmark to measure national happiness, we first have to define what we mean by happiness… and that is something I have thought a lot about because for many years now I’ve been exploring the nature of consciousness and the way our minds work – and what this means for our happiness.
And I’ve discovered that even though everyone wants to be happy, most people are seeking happiness in the wrong place. And we do this because we don’t understand the way the mind works.
I also discovered that despite what most people believe, our experience of happiness is not dependent on outer circumstances and on the things that happen in our lives. Our happiness is dependent on our thoughts and beliefs about the things that are happening to us and for us.
What "Makes" Us Happy?
In other words, our happiness depends on whether we believe something is good or bad. But most people are not aware of this important mechanism and they believe that it is outer circumstances and what they have or don’t have in their lives, which is the reason why they are happy or unhappy. In other words, most people believe their happiness depends on outer conditions like their partner, their job, their finances, how and where they live, their age, weight, appearance, health and so on.
But if we look a little more closely we will discover that this is not true. The outer circumstances or conditions which make one person happy can make another person unhappy. Let’s take a concrete example…
For many people in Denmark (and in the rest of the world for that matter) living in a 3-room apartment here in Wonderful Copenhagen would simply be pure happiness. Most people would consider it a dream come true to live here in the center of Copenhagen with all the shops and cafes and close to the seaside. But if you are now living in a large house by the beach on the Danish Riviera just north of Copenhagen and must suddenly move from your house to a 3-room apartment in Copenhagen, you probably won’t think it’s so wonderful. So here we can clearly see that the happiness has nothing to do with the apartment itself but with the thoughts and expectations a person has as to how they should live in order to be happy.
Wanting What You Have
The quickest route to happiness is to want what you have…! And this mechanism is working in all areas of our lives… The way we experience our relationships, our jobs, our finances, our health, our age, our weight….
If you believe something is good and it meets your expectations, well then you are happy. And if you believe something is not good and it doesn’t live up to your expectations, well then you are unhappy. It’s as simple as that.
And if we then add to the above, all the insane expectations and demands most people have in Denmark today as to what they “need” or “should have” in order to be happy – all the outer conditions that should be in a certain way for them to be happy – well then it’s no wonder that so many people in Denmark are so stressed out and unhappy.
Here are some of the latest statistics from Denmark (where everyone claims they are so happy!).
Out of a national population of 5 million people:
350,000 Danes – nearly 1 in 10 Danes – are suffering from anxiety
350,000 Danes are taking anti-depressants or other mood-stabilizing medications
200,000 Danes are suffering from depression
75,000 Danes have eating disorders
250,000 Danes are suffering from stress
500,000 feel “burnt out” at their jobs
250,000 Danes are drinking so much alcohol daily that they need treatment
This is why it is so important that we all take a closer look at all the unrealistic expectations and demands we have as to what we “need” to be happy – and instead look at the way our minds work. Because only here will we find the key to happiness.
And when we do this – when we understand the way our minds work – when we understand that happiness is an inner event which is not dependent on outer circumstances, then we discover to our great surprise and joy that happiness is in fact our true nature. And that it’s only all our insane expectations and beliefs about what we need to be happy that are keeping us from being happy right now! It’s the great paradox!
©Barbara Berger. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the author.
(Subtitles by InnerSelf)
Article written by the author of:
Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life
by Barbara Berger.
About the Author
Barbara Berger has written over 15 self-empowerment books, including the international bestseller "The Road to Power / Fast Food for the Soul" (published in 30 languages), "Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life" (more than 20 languages) and “The Awakening Human Being – A Guide to the Power of Mind”. American-born, Barbara now lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to her books, she offers private coaching sessions to individuals who wish to work intensely with her (in her office in Copenhagen or on Skype and telephone for people who live far away from Copenhagen). For more about Barbara Berger, see her Web site: www.beamteam.com