Want to be Happier? Eat Trolls and Move to Denmark

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Last week I had two experiences that made me reflect on the cultural norms we rarely question.  About what makes us happy.

The first was I went to see “Trolls”, the latest Pixar movie for kids.

(It’s a great film by the way – delightful and engaging, but maybe a bit scary for younger children.  I say this because we had a 6 and 7 year old sat next to us in the cinema who spent the first half of the film crying and hiding behind their parents, who eventually had to take them out).

As you may know, the heroine is a very cheerful female troll called Poppy – and the story is about how she saves her entire species of trolls from extinction.

You see, there’s this other bunch of creatures called the Bergens, who are habitually and comically depressed – EXCEPT when they are able to catch and eat the trolls.  They believe that eating trolls is the only thing that ‘makes’ them happy.

Poppy and friends are able to point the Bergens towards the fact that their happiness already lies inside them.  A cute message, which turns out to be true of course.

I think we would all regard the Bergens as absurd for believing that their happiness came from eating trolls.

And yet, even though you and I know this to be a complete misunderstanding – I suspect there are other things that you might replace “eating trolls” with, and not think that weird.

Like a certain number of zeroes in your bank account, or a promotion, or a new pair of shoes.  Or a holiday in the Maldives.

The second experience was reading a highly recommended book called “A Year of Living Danishly”, by Helen Russell.  I have a few good friends who are Danish, and I’ve visited a few times, although I’ve never been to Jutland.  From the little I know, I thought Russell gave a good and fair balance of the things to like about living there.

As somebody who shares the inside-out understanding of the mind for a living, I sometimes found the constant, unquestioned assumption that happiness comes from the environment and our circumstances a little frustrating – but then I guess that’s true about most books on happiness, and most of the research as well.

Would I want more societies to become more liked the Danish one?  On balance yes – I think they’ve created a society that ticks a lot of boxes in terms of equality, working hours, social welfare and education.

Would I move to Denmark to become happier?

No, because where we happen to live is not where our experience is coming from.

Our experience is only ever coming from our thought in the moment.  Once we realise this, we are free in any moment, to wake up to the joy, innate well-being and infinite potential that’s already inside us.
What are the some of the “troll-eating” misunderstandings that you live by?

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