Friday, October 23, 2009

Keeping Up With The Joneses … In Denmark

On a recent show, Oprah visited families around the globe, featuring the lives of women. I'm a sucker for these kinds of programs. The place that appealed to me the most was Copenhagen, Denmark. I like the mindset and lifestyle of its people. Danes are ranked #1 as the happiest in the world by 30 years of scientisfic studies and polls. And if you watched Oprah, you learned why. Here's a summary:

1. In Copenhagen, people are concerned about the environment. – 1/3 of the population rides bicycles everywhere, even with small children and packages in tow.
2. The Danes don't worry about homelessness, poverty or unemployment. – If you lose your job, the government steps in to pay 90% of your salary for 4 years and helps you find new employment.
3. Health care is free to everyone. – The country wouldn't have it any other way.
4. The government takes special care of women and children. – Women get 6 - 12 months of paid maternity leave. Citizens get a free education and are paid $400 - $500 per month upon entering a university.
5. People are free to pursue careers based on interests and talents, in lieu of income. – Taxes are progressive. If you earn more, you are taxed more -- up to 60%. {Other sources say, the average worker pays 44% and the highest earner 62% in taxes. Details here.}

But the Danes support these equalizers. They don't mind paying higher taxes because they feel they get a lot for it. As explained by Nanna, a 44 year old resident of Copenhagen, “Then you have healthy, educated people in the world. What could beat that?”

I admire this way of thinking and how it carries into the home décor. I don't like clutter and apparently, neither do Danes. The typical Danish design is modern, clean, bright, sparse and organized. Plus, the big windows are divine! I'm use to more space (and coziness) than the family of five shown here. But what appeals to me – and makes my heart flutter! – is the idea of having everything you need, without the excess of things you don't need. Makes you think, doesn't it? Now you'll have to excuse me; I'm stepping away to get rid of extra stuff and to write a note.

Note to self: If you don't use it, lose it. Focus on what's important.

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