By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet
We live in a culture that tells us to dream big and “be all you can be.” Yet, happiness experts now claim that having far more than we need doesn’t actually make us any happier. Once we have all we need and just a little more for good measure, apparently we are as happy as we are ever going to be.
In one happiness study, Denmark turned out to be the happiest place on earth. It was challenging for me to consider why such a dark, cold place would produce such happy people. Once on Oprah Winfrey, a few Danish people were interviewed about their lifestyle. One of the issues they discussed was their health care, which positively takes care of everyone in their culture. They seem to feel they are all in it together, and that if part of the culture goes without, the rest of the culture is sure to suffer as well.
Churches call this notion “fellowship.” Thinking about that led me down a path that inspired the following poem.
Everything You Ever Wanted
One day, you may wake up to find
you have everything you need.
What, then, is this stirring inside you?
Perhaps, like the Dalai Lama, your soul
is gathering forces for its next incarnation,
or maybe the urge to refine right here,
right now, manifests on this good planet.
Could be you are part of a windy current
flying above the jet streams to nirvana,
or another current has simply sent you skating
past a sociological dream
into a post-consumer world.
I read once that the Danish
are the happiest people in the world.
They live in a dark climate
eclipsed by winter. They ride bicycles
and eat lots of ice-cream,
have less sex and suicide than the Swedes.
They have less divorce, violence,
use of guns, anti-depressants, locks,
and religion than we do.
They have higher taxes,
socialized medicine, excellent natal care.
They are not gobbling up the earth
or each other. One day they woke up to find
they have everything that they ever wanted.
From the May 12-18, 2010 issue