Recently I’ve felt a little out of luck. I didn’t get to rent the apartment I wanted to, and now that I’m looking for a new roommate almost nobody has answered my advertisement. Also I have a little too much work at the moment and, not even counting last weekend’s conference that I really wanted to attend, there isn’t even a day on the weekend when I don’t work at least three hours. But luck of course isn’t the same as happiness, and today is the International Day of Happiness. Most days I am happy, although, again, not always lucky.
I am happy when I wake up and the first “thing” I see is Canavar asking for a long cuddle session. Ok, sometimes like last night he even wakes me up at 4 a.m. and asks to be petted. This isn’t as pleasant, but then again it’s great to know that he loves me just as much as I love him. I am happy when I smell my first coffee of the day, when I walk to the bus and the sun shines, when I start work, when I get home, when I take a hot shower or a long bath, when I read a good book, when I finally close my laptop in the evening, etc.
But I am not one of those people who are excessively enthusiastic all around the clock. Somebody recently described me as “realistic” and I’d say that is highly accurate. By being realistic, I can admit that too much work is exhausting and that lying awake in the middle of the night (without the cat’s help) definitely isn’t a good sign. Realizing this also helps me to start changing these things, e.g. by saying no more often or asking for help. This again improves my general sense of happiness. Because like that I might just decide to take a proper break and book a trip for a weekend away. For my two weeks of spring break in April I already knew in January that I needed time to relax. That is what I can do best on a beach and so I booked my vacation to the Dominican Republic, where I’m meeting my parents, too. Right now I’m even planning to leave my laptop at home. It might be a little thing, but all of them add up and improve my well-being, i.e. my happiness.
Since I’ve lived in countries that are quite different from each other, I sometimes wonder where people are happier. According to the UN World Happiness Report [here], which was published today, the U.S. ranks 14th, Germany 16th, and Turkey 69th. Personally, I didn’t expect this, but I understand the results. Those are based on the GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, the perceptions of corruptions, positive and negative affect. I agree that living in an almost dictatorship like Turkey tears at your happiness. But comparing from how I know Germany and the U.S., I’d have thought that the Germans were happier. There are things we Germans don’t appreciate enough until we live elsewhere, at least in my opinion. In Germany weekly working hours are low in comparison, rents are amazingly cheap and so is food. This again leads to so much for freedom of choices. And social welfare in Germany is a great plus. I’m curious if U.S. Americans might be less happy next year, when e.g. Obamacare will have been revoked. Thinking about the topic won’t make me move back to Germany because I also believe that we are the architect of our own fortune. But knowing different countries and their systems definitely helps me making better decisions.
By the way, people are said to be happiest in Scandinavia with Norway in the first place, Denmark second, and Iceland third. So I guess there’ll be even more books about “Hygge”. The realist in me believes that those books do not help us to become happier, but we definitely help their authors to achieve that by buying the books. Then again, buying and reading books, no matter what kind, always makes me happy, too.