Germany: What is Happiness?


“To be honest, Surani, Germans are not that happy.”

It was approximately one hour from Frankfurt, as I heard this very honest statement from that 30s year old woman (I guessed so). That was her reply to my long description about the condition in Indonesia. I previously talked about poverty, social and other political chaos: corruption, miss-governance, and unplanned development. I said that Indonesians are fighting for a better life, meanwhile the democracy is nothing but the just a tool for the demagogs to run their own interests with no significant contribution to the country.

The special thing of her was not about her profession as the journalist, her brilliant ideas about German and many other issues, or how warm she treated me in just several minutes of our first meeting.. For me, she was the first German to whom I’d ever talked in such intensive discussion!

Being in train whose 2 seats in each half raw, we had a private and comfortable momment to enjoy such conversations discussing Indonesian, Asia, German, European, and the disparities among them. I wondered, how lucky I was to meet her. Firstly, I just took an unoccupied seat, randomly (just after my friends: Difa, Budi and Mita), then I just found her there: sitting on her seat, smiling to me warmly. In the next few hours we did have fun discussion about human, humanity and… happiness!

The thing I loved most was her silver thin-rimmed glasses combined with her European’s eyes.. subhanallah.. ^^. Well, instead of eyes, the way she gave her responses was the real issue inspiring me to write this note: slightly answer, sharp question.

“Germans face other problems, like demography and economical disparities. Yes, you may say the Germans’ education quality is good, but in fact we still need to fight to survive, especially for people in the villages. Lately, life becomes harder I think. I come from Hamburg actually then I move to Berlin for money.  I write news everyday, and to be honest to you Surani, Germans are not that happy.”

” Is it about the global cricis hitting Europe? So, hereby, you correlate happiness and life survival. Umm, is happiness related only to economical problem? Then how about the rich ones, Mam?”, I replied.

“Yes. German need to face the crisis as well. The rich ones? They can have better life, ofcourse..  but.. happiness? well, in Berlin you may get money but it mostly with a stressfull job. I prefer to live in a peaceful place like Hamburg, but I need to survive and Berlin is the place I can work.. what’s happiness anyway?”

I smiled. I had never wonder before, in my first hours in Germany, I got a discussion about happiness. I really wanted to talk more with that journalist, but suddenly a woman in front of us complained that our conversation had been annoying her. (You know, in Germany, people respects others’ privacy in public. They talk rarely and most people prefer reading books or sleeping than talking each others)

Yeah, unfortunately, after that, we were stopping our discussion. The journalist began to sleep, but I couldn’t. Enjoying the scenery of European meadow through the window, I kept thinking by myself for her question was stucked in my head.






I wished that I could arrange those words into sentences and continue our conversation, but it seemed she had already been trapped into a comfy sleep. Next, all I could do, was just taking out my travel notes and trying to write down our conversation.

“German thanks for your warm welcome. would you mind if I share you a little bit about happiness?”

(Improved from my travel notes)

Somewhere on rail, between Frankfurt-Berlin,



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