Two polar-opposite people from two polar-opposite countries

Photo by Toms Rītson Unsplash

You couldn’t find two countries more different than America and Denmark. The huge vs. the tiny. The loud vs. the quiet. The money-obsessed vs. the equality-driven. The huge egos vs. no egos at all. The fourteenth Happiest Country on Earth vs. the second. So it’s no surprise that my husband found many surprises when we left his home in Copenhagen and relocated to New York and then California.

Two polar-opposites ourselves, we took a chance on this big and weird country I called home. Over the past year and a half, I did my best to explain (and sometimes make…

We can’t all move to Denmark, but we can bring some of it to us

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When adjusting to life in Copenhagen, I noticed that things were very different in Denmark from back home in New York City. Locals seemed more relaxed, less addicted to their phones, more present with one another. Streets were quieter, shops and restaurants played gentle music on low volume. It’s almost as if people there didn’t need distractions from their reality.

Was it just the famous work-life balance and social welfare system or were there other, lesser known, reasons for their contentment?

When America is more gloomy than ever, I decided to look at some small, and big, habits we could…

And what America can learn from them

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A little over a year ago, my husband and his two daughters moved from Denmark, voted the second happiest country in the world, to America, the eighteenth country on that list. Here’s what they think so far.

American schools look like jails

When my 10-year-old step-daughter joined a (well-ranked) public school in Brooklyn, she asked me why schools in New York looked like jails. I got defensive, but I knew what she meant. Bleak corridors, colorless rooms, barred windows, lack of fresh air, metal fences around the building — nothing about her school was “cozy,” the word so loved in her home country.

Back in…

Cleaning out my life made space for happy changes.

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A German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously said:

“Less is more.”

What’s true for architecture is true for our lives, too.

Three years ago, I was an American running back home to New York from a foreign country, broke and scared for my future, wrapping up yet another unhealthy relationship.

I was 34 and shattered.

If I were to get better, I needed radical changes. Somewhere around that time, an idea that less is more got stuck in my head. …

Sometimes I’m just as puzzled as he is

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For a year and a half since moving to New York and then Los Angeles from his home country of Denmark, my husband has been asking me questions about this weird country of ours that I sometimes struggle to answer. It’s not that his questions are difficult. It’s just that I’m so used to the way things are here I don’t think to question it. But maybe I should.

Here are some of my favorites.

1. Why do doctors and nurses wear scrubs in the street?

We live in Santa Monica, California — a popular tourist destination, which is also (to our surprise) a home to many hospitals, as well as…

We’re all in this together

Photo by Aaron Sebastianon Unsplash

Walking in New York is unlike walking anywhere else in the world. There’s a rhythm and rules to it. It’s unforgiving. It’s a pedestrian highway.

It’s one of the first things you learn when you move to the Big Apple.

After ten years of battling the crowds in The City, I realized that it not only shaped the way I walk but also the way I think about life and people. You can learn so much about human behavior on a Manhattan sidewalk during rush hour.

You’re not the center of the universe — think before you stop.

What’s more annoying than a car stopping short in front of you on a…

When words are difficult, look for love in the smallest of gestures

Photo by Mayur Galaon Unsplash

My husband is not a chatty guy, especially when it comes to his feelings. He prefers logic. I’m pretty sure he understands computers better than he does women (luckily, he works in IT). He rarely gives compliments and he’s not a great texter. On top of that, he’s from Denmark, where gender equality is a reality, which means you can forget about doors being opened for you or your bags carried (unless you explicitly ask).

I, on the other hand, am a talkative and affectionate person who doesn’t hold her words or emotions back. Needless to say, sometimes I struggle…

Do happy people need less, or does having and doing less make them happier?

Photo by Nikolay Antonov

A tiny but mighty country of Denmark has been ranked among the top three Happiest Countries on Earth for many years — the difference I could feel as soon as I stepped off the plane into the calm, quiet and welcoming heaven of the Copenhagen airport.

The quietness remained throughout the city, and so did the overall sense of peace and well-being. People around me seemed naturally content and present. I was mystified.

After observing Danes for a year, I realized that one of the secrets to being more relaxed is in doing, and owning, less. …

After searching for the answers all over the world, I found them in my own backyard

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

My mom told me that she and my dad were celebrating their grand daughter’s (my daughter’s) first tooth. “You’ll take any excuse to celebrate,” I laughed.

“Sure,” she answered. “We don’t need much to be happy.”

And then it hit me: my Soviet-raised aging parents, living in a one-bedroom apartment, might be the happiest people I know.

After years of moving around and trying to figure out what makes us happy, I stumbled upon the answer right in front of me, and in one place where I never thought to look. …

And enrich your life by doing so

Photo by Priscilla Du Preezon Unsplash

I moved to New York a week after graduating from college in my home country. I didn’t know a single person. Everyone I grew up with was gone in an instant. For the next 15 years, I learned how to make friends as an adult, through trial and error. Moving around a lot didn’t help. But I think I finally figured it out.

Friendship, studies show, has a direct effect on a person’s happiness levels. Sometimes, the most profound effect. Yet so many of us take our friendships, or lack of them, for granted. …

Anastasia Frugaard

Writing and laughing about America and the pursuit of happiness.

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