Category Archives: Literature

Mice that Roar – Holding Our Own in an Extrovert’s World

Have you ever read a book that spoke right to your heart, just when you needed to hear it most? Have you ever wanted to scream and shout in excitement that surely it must have been written to you?

For me, Quiet by Susan Cain is one such book.

In a world where the only constant is change, the self-help industry has thrived on our anxieties, fears and insecurities, backed by a plethora of books advocating change. With titles such as How to Win Friends and Influence People; Awaken the Giant Within or The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, it is no wonder that we are constantly questioning whether we are ever good enough. It is refreshing, then, to chance upon a book that teaches us to appreciate the value of just…being ourselves.

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Trust – The Underpinnings of Scandinavian Happiness

For those of you whom have followed my journey through Scandinavia earlier this year, you may already have an inkling of my long-held fascination for the people of the north and their enviable way of life. What started out as a childhood adulation for all things Lego (i.e. Denmark’s gift to the world) has grown to so much more since then.

Despite my personal curiosities, very little seems to be known about Scandinavia compared with the rest of Europe, or the world for that matter. (Ask a Scandinavian and they would probably prefer to keep it that way, as a nod to their deep-rooted stoicism and utter inability to flaunt their unique heritage.) Search France or Italy and you will be spoilt for choice with a staggeringly long list of travelogues, cookbooks and biographies fuelling the collective fantasy. Search Scandinavia and you will be scratching your head in dismay at the relatively slim pickings. For a self-indulgent contrarian like me, however, having the opportunity to discover the collective blind spot for myself proved to be too tantalising a calling to ignore.

From Denmark’s cosmopolitan dynamism, to Norway’s scenic wonders and Sweden’s architectural charms, it hits me almost instantaneously why various polls over the years – from the spurious (Oprah Winfrey hype index) to the serious (UN’s World Happiness Report) – have consistently ranked the region as one of the happiest, least corrupt and most egalitarian societies in the world. So, armed with little more than my own experiences and Michael Booth’s hilariously insightful “The Almost Nearly Perfect People”, I will endeavour today to unmask one factor which I believe single-handedly underpins all forms of Scandinavian happiness and prosperity: Trust.

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The Count of Monte Cristo

There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die…that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.


Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not what is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of fair weather.


Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope‘.

– Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo

Family Happiness

I often lie awake at night from happiness, and all the time I think of our future life together. I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour – such is my idea of happiness. And then, on top of all that, you for a mate, and children perhaps – what more can the heart of man desire?


I loved him as much as ever and was as happy as ever in his love; but my love, instead of increasing, stood still; and another new and disquieting sensation began to creep into my heart. To love him was not enough for me after the happiness I had felt in falling in love. I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life.

– Leo Tolstoy

Family Happiness