If you had asked me a couple years ago what I want most in my life, I probably would have said something along the lines of: Happiness.
We strive for happiness, and say things like, I just want to be happy with as much conviction as you would say hold the blue cheese, dressing on the side, please.
According to this Atlantic article, happiness is a long equation that boils down to: “whether things are going better or worse than you had expected they would,” which reminds me of my study abroad stint in Denmark, where I learned that Danes were the happiest people on the planet because of their low expectations. They never expect much, so life is pretty much one big pleasant surprise. (oh! the weather’s nice today? How wonderful!) It’s odd to think about because it’s so different than how Americans try to achieve a happy life, which is essentially to just grab at happiness from day one.
I know which things bring me happiness. I think we all do. Presents make me happy. Listening to kids laugh their heads off makes me happy. My boyfriend absentmindedly kissing my forehead makes me happy. But my life goal, right now, is not to be happy, because the minute happiness becomes a priority, it also becomes 1 million anxious expectations. In many ways, I think, it actually sets you up to be unhappy.
So I think I’m going to start doing the Danish way (or at least be inspired by it). Anyone with me?