Posts Tagged With: happiness

To Travel is to Live

world is a book I have often wondered why some individuals do not choose to travel.  I know for some, travel is expensive and thus not within the budget.  I also know that for some, routine is what makes some individuals happy, so even the thought of anything outside their ‘normal’ routine is not acceptable.  Further, I know that some have no desire to travel.  And some are fearful and do they have the courage to step outside their comfort zone into new and unexplored territory.  Of course, there are those who have never in their life set foot on an airplane nor have any inkling how to plan a trip.  Whatever, the reason behind not traveling, I find that it puts some individuals at a disadvantage in life.

 

collect memories Every human being has his or her own way of going through this journey called life.  For myself, I prefer to have experiences that influence who I am and how I relate to my world.  I cherish the times I travel with loved ones to faraway lands.  As the image states, I “collect memories” and not things.  I would rather spend my hard-earned money on feeling connected to others and sharing my experiences.  Unlike myself, many Americans spend more of their money on material things to make themselves feel good.  I make no judgement here as what works for one does not work for others.  I simply appreciate my shared experiences more than what I own or not own.  I do not care if I drive the most expensive car, nor do I care if I live in a humongous house.  I care more about feeling good from what I see and where I go.  I guess I am more of an emotional creature and moved by my emotions in life rather than caring whether I am living up to someone else’s standards or not.  I also do not care whether I have money left at the end of my life or not.  I care more about what I do with my money and who I share it with while I can still enjoy it.

I have said it before however it is worth repeating many times over, travel broadens one’s horizons and makes them a better person.  Better how?  Better in respect to being open and understanding of other’s cultures and ways of life.  Travel creates open-minded, intelligent individuals in a way that a travel book does not.  These unique life experiences in other lands opens the mind up to acceptance, and compassion for others in the world.  Those who do not travel often are narrow-minded and cannot see beyond their rose-colored glasses.  This is not to say that all individuals are narrow-minded, rather, many cannot fathom a world outside of their own spectrum.

ones destination

Travel is exciting!  Just as a kid in a candy store for the first time, travel is just as enticing and delightful!  Seeing things for the first time adds to the excitement and takes one’s senses to new heights!  Think back to childhood, every time you saw, or tasted, or smelled something for the first time, you were renewed with feelings you never before experienced.  Travel does this as well.  Travel enhances one’s emotions and feelings and brings a sense of renewed life into a boring routine.  What once may have been is now renewed and hopeful and opens new ways of looking at the world we exist in.

i travel alot  We only have one journey in life.  Why subject ourselves to the same routine day in and day out?  Why not explore this amazing world we were given and travel to new destinations beyond our present reach?  Imagine, explore and reach for new experiences!

Where would you go if there were no obstacles in life to get there?

Safe journeys,

Debbie

 

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living in America: Feels good?!!

James Brown, the infamous ‘godfather of soul’ crooned about Livin’ in America.  “I feel good, eye to eye, hand in hand while living in the promised land” touted Brown in his 1986 hit song.  But does it really “feel good” to live in America in the 21st century?  For the past week, upon return from my recent travels to Denmark, Iceland, and Norway I have been contemplating this very thought in my mind.

I am an American, born and raised here my entire life.  I am however, no economic major, nor have I ever really paid attention to politics or the state of the American union.  I like to think of myself as a ‘typical’ American who goes about my day thinking only of myself and my immediate family, how hard we will have to work, how much money we will make, and how much money will be left after paying all the bills to spend on personal luxuries.  As a ‘typical’ middle class individual, I rarely spend time thinking about those less fortunate than I, nor do I think about what I could be doing to help make the world a better place.  I don’t have to, after all I am American and live in a capitalistic country where each citizen is clearly out for their own personal gain – including that of our government.  We are raised to be a hard-working, money-making society, and those who have more money are in a higher class in society than those who do not.  Money drives our daily lives and brings us happiness to those who have, and unhappiness to those who do not have.  True Capitalism at it’s best!

Each year, the Wider Opportunities for Women compiles a report on the basic economic security tables in the United States..  This report “measures basic needs and assets for workers required for economic security in American households” (www.wowonline.org).  In 2014, it was reported that 44% of Americans lacked basic economic security.  It went on to report that those households with greater education levels scored somewhat higher on meeting basic economic security than someone without an education.  This struck me as ironic since our country does not support paying for our children’s education, hence only those who can afford a college education can attend and those who don’t are obviously stuck without any means to gain economic security.

Personally, I think these capitalistic attitudes are draining, not only mentally, but economically in my pocket as well.  I may fall into that ‘middle class’ society according to my tax returns, however it seems more and more as if I am left with less in my pocket, and more stress and worry than ever.  With stress and worry comes a decrease in the happiness quotient, and an increase in dissatisfaction with my life as an American.

I have expenses, huge expenses that I feel would be taken care of in some fashion or another if I lived in an egalitarian country.  Out of our monthly income comes  expenses such as: food, gasoline for the cars (3 of them), household living expenses (such as electricity, water, sewer, etc), education (currently paying $2400 for tuition and $3000 for dorm fees, plus food per semester, approximately 4 months, for my son in college), insurance (car insurance for 3 vehicles is $6000 per year, health insurance is $14,400 in annual premiums plus $7,500 out-of-pocket before the health insurance pays a penny, homeowners insurance $2000 per year, disability insurance, flood insurance, etc). and if anything is left at the end we are advised to invest money into a retirement account.

Speaking of retirement account, “they” say social security benefits which I have been paying into throughout my adult life may or may not be available when I retire in the future.  Americans are told we should not count on it as our only means of retirement income.  Thus, 401-K came into being and now we must take what little disposable income we may have and invest it ourselves (and sometimes with the aid of an employer) with the hope that when we retire we can afford it.  Based on the figures I demonstrated earlier you can see that I have little to any disposable income left, thus I worry about what will happen when I eventually retire. Worry and stress, stress and worry, it takes up a great deal of my life and leaves me with less and less quality of life and time to spend with family and friends as I am always worried about having enough money.

After returning home from Norway I began to look at and wonder how different my life would be if I were to live in an ‘egalitarian’ system such as in Scandinavia.  From what I gather, egalitarianism focuses on low social inequality.   There are no divisions between low class, middle class and upper class. One is not looked down upon for making less money than another.  All citizens are treated same and/or similar in respect to what they have or don’t have.  In egalitarian countries one works for the good of all.  With this type of system, those individuals who work are taxed heavily and the government is responsible for giving out funds to help those in need.  With this system comes health care and an education at no expense to any citizen.  Norway in fact has a great deal of highly educated people for this very reason.

Because all medical expenses are paid for, as well as a full education, no one has to stop and think where this money will come from.  Hence, the people who live in an egalitarian system have less stress, less worry, and have a higher happiness quotient.  In fact, in Denmark I spoke to a gentleman in a coffee shop who said to me “I gladly give my money to the government because I don’t have to worry about anything.”  With little to no stress or worry, Scandinavians work a moderate amount of hours per week, have something like up to 6 weeks paid vacation per year, have one year of maternity leave paid for, and have time left over to enjoy spending time with friends and family.  I was amazed to see a great deal of people having a leisurely lunch with friends and I watched intensely at how much enjoyment they had on their faces.  This would never be the case in the States as we are lucky to have a one hour break where we scarf down our food, pay the bill, and race back to work!

In my opinion, the United States capitalistic mind-set has created a huge disparity among its citizens whereby the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  Self-satisfaction and personal gain are prominent features in our country.  The leaders of our country abide by these principles and make decisions on our behalf with the underlying premise being what is politically best at the time these principles go into effect.  I have never heard a political leader premise his/her actions by doing what is best for the citizens of our country, rather they act based upon once again – personal gain and how much influence their political power ensues.

On the other side, Egalitarianism means that all of one’s basic needs are met without question of who you are or where you fall in society.  This type of government does not base their decisions upon who deserves what over another, rather it treats its citizens with respect and believes in honoring the basic needs of all individuals and not just the chosen few.  If I lived in such a place, I would no longer have to pay out of my pocket for health expenses, nor would I have to worry about my retirement.  My kids would have an excellent education and future.  I would be living ‘the high life’ with an abundance of happiness and increased quality of life.

I am ashamed at my country for treating me and all other citizens with such disdain for human life and sustenance.  I feel there is a better way for us all to live and it does not include the American way.  I want my children to grow up in a land where all are treated the same – as human beings with basic needs.  I do not wish my children to look down upon another simply because they have less than we do.  It’s time our country steps up and takes care of the basic needs of its citizens!  And I think it should begin with free education for all!

If only the United States would see to the betterment of its citizens, then and only then would James Brown’s song ring true!  “Eye to eye, hand in hand, promised land!”

Safe journeys,

Debbie

P.S. I would like to say that this was written from my personal perspective only and not necessarily the views of all Americans or of the United States.  I am simply stating my thoughts and have no intention of offending anyone.

Categories: America, American, capitalism, economic security, egalitarian, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I learned in Denmark and Iceland

True to my blog’s name, travel really does enrich your life and make you a better person or in some cases, a more aware person.

I had a great deal of personal enrichments on my last trip that I will share with you today.

My pre-trip goal was to have fun, learn about the Danish culture, find my own “hygge,” and to step outside my comfort zone.  I have not only accomplished what I set out to do, but much more!

First, I found my true “hygge.”  Hygge for me was experiencing the entire Danish lifestyle and embracing what was in front of me daily.  That goes for everything from the local coffee shops, the conversations with locals, and even to the slip and fall in the middle of the street in Copenhagen (I definitely learned I need to look more where I am walking and not assume the curbs are all even as they are in the states!).

When you travel, it is best to expect the unexpected.  By expecting things to not go perfectly one is better equipped to go with the flow.  I had never expected the Danish ground crew to go on strike and delay my plane.  I also did not expect the gate the change and be on the other side of the airport!  By not being upset, and calmly dealing with these travel snafus, I was less stressed and a much better traveler than I would have been had I taken everything so seriously.  Let’s face it, things happen.  Accept it and move on!

I also learned that the Danes are well taken care of by their government and have little to worry about.  This gives them a sense of security that we Americans do not have.  I understand why they live the way they do and how less pressure they live under.  This affords them the opportunity to enjoy family and friends as well as leisure time.  As Americans, I do not think we will ever have this.  At best, all I can learn from this is to want less, and to appreciate what I have and not to yearn for more and more.  If I have less, it follows that I would be able to work less if I am spending less.  It would all even out.  I know this sounds kind of far-fetched, however, I think some of this is possible in our country (America) of excess and materialism.  As I have been saying, less is more.  I intend to make changes in my life such that I am less and less of a materialistic girl and more of a  connoisseur of what I already have.

This trip also taught me that it is ok not to straighten my hair to perfection daily – my hair straightener would not fit in the adapter plug so I had to do without!  I learned that I can survive and go out in public with my hair just the way it is!  Further, it is ok, not to have to put on makeup to go out.  I am who I am and those who pass judgment or do not approve can take a hike!

In addition, I learned what it is like to truly be myself, not caring what others think.  By being myself I experienced spontaneity and freedom.  I played in the snow like a 12-year-old, and I had so much fun!  True, we don’t have snow here in Florida to play with, however, it felt darn good to run in it, throw snow, and make a snow fairy just like I did up north as a child!!  I intend to work on this aspect of being myself while at home so others too can experience the “real” me!

Finally, I have all the experiences and memories in my head that will be with me forever.  I will never forget waking up in my Danish apartment (thanks to airbnb!), or tasting Swedish meatballs in Malmo.  I will always have a sense of peace and rejuvenation every time I re-visit the Blue Lagoon in my mind and in my pictures.  And I will always savor that first bite of Icelandic cod I had in Reykjavik.  These moments will never be forgotten and I will cherish them always.

I am as always thankful for being able to experience my journeys and to come home safely.

What have you learned from your latest travels?

Safe journey,

Debbie

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Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Doc Cannabis and finding nemoland

Got arthritis? ADHD? Or perhaps you suffer from chronic pain? Whatever the ailment, be sure to see Doc Cannabis the sign in Christiana reads.  This is the weird and wonderful world of  Christiana.   In Christiana, drugs rule, while fools drool.

As I stroll down the street in this tiny town, I am transported back in time to  hippies, flower power, peace, and drugs.  A pair of men carrying garbage bags walks past me stopping at each garbage can to collect cans and bottles for cash.  Meanwhile, in the middle of  metropolis “nemoland” sits an open booth of free clothes for those in need of warmth.

i walk further through the winding trail and breathe in the heavy odor of pot.   This is a totally different side of Danish happiness than what the studies talk of  Small shacks of tin houses line the dirt trail as I walk further into this colony of no rules, and open living unlike any I have ever experienced.  This is a world one can live according to ones desire without consequences or law.  Christiana is peace and happiness.

I walk in in amazement with a smile on my face. I have never seen anything like this. I do not judge nor criticize, only absorb this lifestyle as it is.  I am in awe at this lifestyle and how little these people have. Yet, without all the luxuries in life they appear content and at peace with the choices they have made.

Peace be with you,

Debbie

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Denmark: Happiest nation in the world

According to the World Happiness Report, Danes are ranked as the happiest people in the world.  So what really makes the Danish so happy?  Well, some say it is in their DNA.  Perhaps happiness does breed happiness, but genetically speaking, how logical is it to say we carry a happiness gene in our genetic makeup?

Happiness can be quite subjective, so I am curious to know just how these studies were conducted that concluded who are the happiest and who are unhappy.  In American culture, happiness is often concluded based upon one’s haves versus have nots.  Success often equates to happiness and so does one’s socio-economic status.

In Denmark, this is not the case as I understand it.  The Danes are mindful people as a whole.  What I mean is that they are present-minded people who focus on the here and now versus being future oriented as we Americans often are.  Danes take great pleasure in every ordinary day and have learned to be happy with what they have in the present moment.  This is known in Denmark as “hygge” (pronounced hue-guh).  Hygge is inviting closeness into ones life and paying close attention to what matters most in the moment.  Almost anything can be considered hygge according to the Danish.  Having coffee at a cafe is hygge.  Riding a bike is hygge.  Enjoying a conversation with a friend is also hygge.

Too often life is spent chasing what we do not have but want.  I too am often guilty of wanting more than I have.  I hope to take a lesson from the Danish as I travel to Denmark in the next week in search of my own hygge!  Instead of bringing back a trinket or two, I would like to bring back my own sense of happiness for what I have as well as a greater enjoyment out of living life in the present moment.

What is your hygge?

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