Planting Seeds of Happiness The Danish Way: Malene Rydahl (Transcript)

Trust is actually a choice made by each one of us every day. Saying that this and that person is not doing it is in my world not a reason not to apply it to yourself. We can actually choose to be part of the team fostering a world of more trust.

FREEDOM TO BE YOU

Now the second seed is the freedom to be you. This is actually also about trust. It’s about trusting yourself to be you.

In Denmark, the main purpose of education is to develop the personality of the child. We teach our children that no matter what they are good at, it’s important to society. You are not rated a better human being because you are good at math or foreign languages.

You can actually be top of the class in creativity or cooking. No matter what your talent is, it’s important; we value it.

Now this gives the young Danish people an extraordinary base of actually choosing a life that corresponds to who they are. Because they are taught at an early age that no matter what that role is, it’s important to society.

Now, let me tell you a little story. A few months ago, I had dinner with some friends in Denmark, and a lady looked particularly happy that night. And she explained to me that she was so happy because her son finally figured out what he wanted to do in life.

And I said, “Well, so … really?”

“He’s jumping out of bed, going to school every morning. It’s wonderful.”

I said, “What’s your son studying?”

She said, “He’s studying Techniques and Logistics.”

I said, “Well, that’s great. What will he do after?”

And she looked at me, and she said — and she smiled — she said, “He’ll be a garbage man.”

Now, admit that some of you might be thinking, “What parent would really be happy that her son wants to be a garbage man?” But guess what? This is actually where a part of the key to this whole big question lies: When you’re free to choose what you want to do in life without other people judging you.

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And this includes, by the way, parents, who very often project their own ambitions on their children. What could possibly bring more value to your own person than to have your child being a mirror effect of yourself: the Mini Me?

Now, some people might argue, “Hm, well, the educational system doesn’t work that way in my part of the world.” Maybe not.

But you are still free to choose how you react to other people’s choices of being themselves. It is still your choice not to judge but to encourage and support other people’s choices of being themselves.

When it comes to your choice and your freedom to choose your life, I’m going to go back to my seeds of happiness. Because sometimes, and I would say actually most of the time, we are not free.

We have tons of responsibilities: paying rent, school fees, having committed to a big project that we need to finish.

Now, I know this because most of the choices that I’ve made in my life have started with me actually planting a seed that has gradually grown into something that I could choose.

The only reason why I am here in front of you today is that I planted a seed two and a half years ago when I started writing my book. After 18 years in the corporate world, I only left my job three months ago.

And to be honest, while this seed was growing, I didn’t know where it was going to take me. But knowing, thinking about that I planted it made me feel happy.

The point is that if you don’t plant any seeds, you’re sure that nothing will happen. It doesn’t actually matter how long it takes for your seed to grow. What matters is that you have come closer to becoming you. This alone will actually add significant well-being to your lives.

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SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?

Well, we can spend time figuring out when we stop being ourselves. Find that dream and plant that seed, and we can make sure that next time we see somebody fighting the battle of being free to choose their life, we do not judge. We support and we encourage them.

PURPOSE

The last seed I am going to talk to you about is purpose.

So what do I mean by purpose? I mean this. So, you wonder, maybe, who is behind that? Let me introduce you to Ali.

Now you might see a dishwasher, but if you ask any of Ali’s colleagues, they would say that he is part of the team running the best restaurant in the world.

When Noma won the prize of the best restaurant in the world, René Redzepi, the chef, decided to take the whole team to London to receive the prize on stage. Ali, due to some paper problems, couldn’t go, so the whole team ended up on stage wearing a T-shirt with the photo of Ali.

For the people working at Noma, it’s about living a dream; it’s about living their passion. It’s about being part of a common project.

So what can we learn from them? Well, this is of course closely linked to the second seed of actually doing something that you feel passionate about.

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