Posts Tagged ‘American Dream’

Initially, I intended to end this blog with my “Farvel Danmark” post but I wanted to give myself some time to process my transition back to the U.S.   I definitely have experienced waves of reverse cultural shock but it has all made me reflective of my own country and culture.   And I think many of my friends have probably become pretty annoyed with me comparing everything back to Denmark.  I guess that is all a part of living there for a year, the enchantment of having discovered a small country and feeling like it was my home.

As I am preparing for another world adventure, this will be my last blog post.  I have enjoyed sharing my experiences in Denmark.  So bare with me as I put on my philosopher hat and share with you 3 life lessons that living in Denmark has taught me:

  1. Live within your means.  As I reflected on this principle, I was immediately met with the challenge of the American Dream.  Initially, I would argue that the American Dream meant striving for economic independence and the opportunity for social advancement through thrift, hard work, and financial gain.   Now is has come to mean, finding a way to instant wealth!  Ultimately, in a capitalist society meaning that life is almost ruled by money and assets such as having a big house and nice car is what separates the successful from those who are not.  This is not to say that there are not threads of this thinking in Denmark but I think for many Danes, life is about being content with having (at the very least) your basic needs met.  Therefore, living within your means doesn’t mean denying yourself of what you feel might make you happy but it’s learning to separate your needs from your wants by satisfying your wants when your needs have been met.  I guess now I can see that maybe having a big car or house isn’t really necessary. Maybe with a change in focus on living within what you already have and not just the pursuit of acquiring luxurious assets, maybe many Americans could save more.
  2. Work to live and don’t just live to work.  Try to find a balance between work (be it a job or school) and make time for yourself, family, friends, and/or leisure.  Most jobs end by at least 4pm in Denmark and that means people are usually on their way home to spend time with family or friends.  There are 24 hours in a day.  8 hours would be ideal for sleeping, 8 hours for work, and technically you should have 8 hours left for whatever.  If you’ve worked 7-8 hours already, why go home and work more?
  3. Humor has the power to counteract some of life’s worst situations.  Danes have a way of adding humor to every aspect of life.  Although, it takes some getting used to, I’ve come to appreciate it.  So learn to laugh more and see the lighter sides of things.  Maybe we should learn to live life with no regrets because a good day gives you happiness and a bad day gives you experience!

So in conclusion, I just wanted to thank all the people that have read, followed, and commented on my blog.  I always welcome different perspectives as they help me expand my understanding of U.S. and Danish differences but also allow me to become aware of my own biases.  Thanks Denmark for the incredible life lessons!

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