The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Sharmi Albrechtsen

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Sharmi Albrechtsen


Summary: Jill learned a great deal about Danes, about Americans and about herself when she read A Piece of Danish Happiness. She had quite a few things to discuss with author Sharmi Albrechtsen when she popped in to Bookbag Towers.
Date: 22 October 2013
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill learned a great deal about Danes, about Americans and about herself when she read A Piece of Danish Happiness. She had quite a few things to discuss with author Sharmi Albrechtsen when she popped in to Bookbag Towers.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Sharmi Albrechtsen: Anyone who is curious about what the secrets of the happiest people in the world are! And readers who love a book that is honest, humorous and insightful about culture, living abroad, travel and what makes us happy.

  • BB: Your topic, the source of happiness, is a big one. Did you approach it with an organised method?

SA: Funny enough I first started my blog as a skeptical investigation into Danish Happiness and I was fairly certain that I would be able to debunk the myth! But as time went on and I started reflecting on how the data, interviews and information I was collecting actually had some personal meaning for my own life. In the end, the book became a personal story about how I found true happiness, love and an understanding of the culture and country I had been living in.

In addition, I was inspired to create a Happiness Recipe based on the happiness formula that claims that the happiness you experience (H) is determined by your biological set point (S) plus the conditions of your life (C) plus the voluntary activities (V) that you do. I was able to segment Danish lifestyles and norms and plug it into the formula.

  • BB: We loved the Danish concept of hygge. Could you explain it a little for those who haven't read your book yet?

SA: Hygge is pronounced HUEgah

Hygge is a word you will hear endlessly here in Denmark and to describe many things – a romantic candlelit table, an intimate dinner party, a warm silky bath, a delicious gourmet coffee, a freshly baked cake straight from the oven, even watching TV with the family.

Hygge, loosely translated it can be considered coziness and includes the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle, and soothing things. Hygge is described as a deep sense of place & well-being; a feeling of friendship, warmth, contentment and peace with your immediate surroundings. The true essense of hygge is lost if it is too elegant, too extravagant, too luxurious. Hygge must be modest in a way, mundane and familiar – it is the celebration of the dull that hygge embodies.

  • BB: And nærvær or mindfulness?

SA: Danes are also good at practicing nærvær/mindfulness which is to have complete attention to the present experience – like truly concentrating on drinking a cup of tea… feeling the warmth of the cup in your hand, slowly feeling tasting the flavors in your mouth and letting the steam tickle your face. Be in the present! Be mindful instead of mindless!

  • BB: Can you ever see yourself leaving Denmark?

SA: Gosh that is a tough one. Yes, not because I don’t love Denmark but more because I am a rolling stone and I love new experiences.

  • BB: How many pairs of shoes do you own today?!

SA: In the book, I admit that I was a shoe-aholic…

Well, I still own at least 100 pairs but I don’t buy shoes I don’t need and I try to have better balance with regards to all my materialistic purchases.

  • BB:

What gave you the idea to translate your blog into a book?

SA: I always knew the blog would become a book. I choose to write a blog as a way to share my reflections, co-create and be able to have discussions with Danes and readers. I am really thankful to all my fans and readers who have contributed to the process. I can’t imagine writing this kind of book any other way since outside perspectives and points of view are key.

  • BB: How did you find the process? Have you any advice for other bloggers who might want to do the same?

SA: It was really tough! I would say that keeping my eyes towards the goal and having a very specific formula helped me with planning and organizing my thoughts, ideas and blog articles. But it is also important to be open and whimsical – so if a fun topic comes up like Danish Fish Porno, don’t avoid because it does not fit completely with your overall blog goals.

  • BB: What would be your desert island book?

SA: Eat, Pray, Love because it is so immense, full of emotion and full of intimate personal details. I could read it many times and still have be able find angles and nuances I missed.

  • BB: What's next for Sharmi Albrechtsen?

SA: I am actually hoping that my book will be picked up as a romantic comedy movie. Yes, I know I am a dreamer. :)

I am also working on my next book with the working title, the Happy Divorce. It is about why divorce is the best thing that can happen to you and how we as a society should embrace and encourage divorce for our children and future generations.

  • BB: Good luck with that, Sharmi and thanks for chatting to us.

You can read more about Sharmi Albrechtsen here.

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