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How Unhappy Stories Make Us Happy


Generally speaking Danish novels and movies tend to be on the not so happy side. Complicated relationships, unhappy endings and as I wrote in my last post, dark crime stories seem to dominate the Danish world of fiction. It seems like a mystery in itself why the happiest people in the World produce such dark dramas?! Why do so many scary, if not depressing, stories come from this country and how does that go along with being such a happy country? You wouldn’t really think that anyone is happy in Denmark based on those crime stories and movies about unhappy families. Or, are these dark stories part of the reason why Danes are happy/content? Reading about someone who is doing worse than ourself in life might actually make us feel better about ourselves. It puts our life into perspective and can make us appreciate what we have and feel thankful that at least we don’t have as big problems as the people in the story.



Feeling cozy with a sad book. “Trip trap” tray, “Tema” coffee cup, and dead roses…


The authors of “The Danish Way of Parenting” make the same point and call it “Authenticity”. Already as children the Danes read sad or scary stories like many of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, which give them more realistic expectations and prepare them better for life.

Read the article “Why happy endings don’t make us that happy”


Another great article “The gift of an unhappy ending”

It is healthy to talk with children about difficult topics and life events and to be honest about what is going on – in a way that is appropriate for their age. This way they learn that life isn’t always rosy red and that they might not become a princess who meets a handsome prince. They learn to be honest with themselves and let their true emotions guide them through life.

Do you have any opinion about this? Feel free to comment if you have another explanation of why Danish fiction isn’t on the happy side? Do you agree that flawed main characters and fiction about other people’s problems make us happier and more appreciative of our own life? I would love to hear your take on this!


  1. Hi! I’m the publicist for THE DANISH WAY OF PARENTING by Iben Sandahl and Jessica Alexander. We’re publishing the book in the US August 9 and I’d love to send you a copy for possible review on your blog (or happy to coordinate an author Q&A, etc.). If interested, let me know!


    • Hi Keely,
      Thank you so much for offering me a copy of The Danish Way of Parenting. I love the book and was only able to get the electronic version of it earlier this year.
      I would also be very excited to write a review of the book and a Q&A on this blog.
      You can contact me on:
      Bests, Line


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