Hello. Hello, guys. Welcome to another episode of the Big Apple School podcast. With the goal of this show is to help you improve your listening skills in English by, of course, listening to us. My name is Benjamin, and today I'm joined by three guests. Our first guest today is...
Wonderful. And our second guest....
And last but not least, we have...
So, guys, the topic today is happiness. And it's quite a big topic. There's a lot to discuss. It's quite a philosophical topic. But let's get started by looking at the World Happiness Index. Do you guys know what this index is?
Yep. It's the annual sort of list of happiest and unhappiest countries?
Yeah. And I don't know if you guys did your homework, but do you know which... Which countries are at the top of the list? You know?
Are we supposed to guess, actually...?
Sweden? Yes, Sweden is up there. Yes, Sweden is up there.
I know that for several years in a row, Denmark was at the very top.
So, yeah, Denmark is number two.
Oh, number two? Nice, so who is number one?
Yeah. So number one, Finland. Number two, Denmark. What do you think is number three?
It's... This country's kind of like...
So, Iceland is kind of...
Which is interesting because all of these countries are super expensive ones.
What else do they have in common? So, they're cold, they're super expensive.
They have very high taxes.
Well, let me label all... Or I mean list all the top ten. We have Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Israel and New Zealand.
Yeah. Israel is number 9.
No offense to all Israel listeners, of course, but I wouldn't expect it to make it to the top ten. But if we talk about the top three, all that they have... Well, one more thing that they have in common is their outlook on life, because all of them, you know, follow this Hygge lifestyle, hedonism, you know, you got to enjoy you life...
Kinda hedonism but, you know, but still they work hard kinda...
Do you want to explain Hygge more?
So basically Hygge is this outlook on life, which says that you need to surround yourself with things that make you happier, make you feel cozy. So, it's mostly about how you organize your home, for example. So, it's all about the fabrics, the textures, something that makes you feel warm, you know, and some sort of like inviting interior and everything.
But it's only if you speak about the material things, but also speak about the mindset of Hygge.
So it's this coziness, this peacefulness, you know, you just try to feel good. So, yeah...
That's why actually what an interesting fact that in Denmark, which is basically the place where Hygge appeared, they have the highest consumption of chocolate per capita. You know, so... Higher than in any other country in the world.
And candles. I'm not sure about candles, but you kind of would expect that.
So, all these countries must eat a lot of chocolate? Definitely Switzerland likes their chocolate, for sure. I don't know about Israel. Maybe it's too hot for chocolate. Maybe chocolate melts.
They find happiness in other things, because, let's say in Denmark and Iceland actually is one of the countries that also has a high consumption of alcohol per capita like... They drink like crazy, but they are some of the happiest. So that's why...
They're the happiest, right?
If we think about Russia like, you know, in this case, we do not have this correlation.
I'm not sure ... We don't like to drink a lot.
Russians don't drink as much as I thought.
Not as much as Britain...
But I think the younger generation of Russians have started to consume way less alcohol. Russian stereotypes.
Yeah, we don't want to go into that. But anywho... High taxes.
High taxes, maybe. I mean, I wouldn't be happy if I was taxed high.
If the salary's high. So... You just give how many percent? It's like 30, 25..
In Switzerland it depends. I know it's like from 40 to like 50.
But think about it. So they see these taxes working. So, they have good quality of roads, the infrastructure.
Yeah. Because you can... They have more accountability. So, you can see where your tax money is going. If you are paying something crazy like 60% and you can see the cause and effect of your tax dollars, then yeah, that's not... It's actually fine. You don't...You wouldn't have a problem with that really. Whereas... But I would say the biggest thing that connects these countries is that they're all small countries with small populations.
That is also so true. I mean Luxembourg.
Yeah, yeah. Luxembourg was... number six according to the list. If you're a smaller country, then that means... Things like this you can... account for things better.
So, do you think it's easier to be happy in a small country and why?
Well, yeah. I mean, here says... America or the United States, that is number 16. So the US obviously is a huge country as well. What's what is it, 300 and what is it, 360?
Something like that, yeah.
So about what about Britain and Russia, do you happen to know?
Actually, Britain, the UK is at 17th, so it's just behind the US. I don't really know how they came to these results. I mean, there's a huge report which you can read on their website, The World Happiness. It's called www.WorldHappiness.report. You can see all the details there.
Did they ask any Asian countries or they just ignored them? Like who cares about China.
Well, I read somewhere that South Korea, despite being an immaculate country, amazing infrastructure. It has a really high suicide rate.
Right. Like Japan. Yes, the same.
Why do you think that they have such a high suicide rate?
Social pressure problem, social anxiety. Some kind of...
They are raised to be hard-working, like really hard-working.
The hierarchy also, by the way.
Well, I know the Japanese are famous for having a special suicide ritual. What is it called? Hukou?
Oh, I don't know. It's something I've heard about.
It's really... yeah, they have a forest.
Right, where they can go and just kill themselves. That's awful.
I mean, it's in their culture.
Right. It's not like something to be ashamed of...
Well, I just wanna kill myself so what?
Yeah, it's okay. That's okay.
Yeah, I agree with Natalie that it must have come from social pressure most.
Do they work really long hours, though? I believe that the mindset is more to what the purpose of life is to work. Perhaps maybe that's a contributing factor.
But again the prices are so high, especially in Tokyo. If you want to buy a flat, you have to work so much. It's...
Oh, you've been to Tokyo, haven't you? Oh, you haven't. Because you've been to other parts of Asia.
I haven't been to Japan, yeah. Not Japan. I don't know why.
So wait, did you go to Hong Kong as well? And there is really expensive.
Yeah, oh no wait a second. No, I haven't.
I was just in the airport there and that's it.
But I love the... You know, a couple of seconds when Natalie was actually thinking like, did I go there or not?
I mean, I have, but it was just in the airport, so it doesn't count.
But Hong Kong has a really high cost of living there. I could imagine that... I'm not sure the cost of living is exactly going to make people happy, but...
Then again in Sweden, perhaps. Well, like you said before, perhaps your salary can make up for it. Whereas in Hong Kong you're just going to have to find a tiny apartment and...
But actually once you've mentioned that all these countries have in common is their size. It kind of... You start to understand that actually yeah. So, both of them, like a lot of countries, are very expensive these days. But... If we think about Moscow or let's say Hong Kong, Tokyo, they also have, you know, high taxes rate, high long working hours. So people do... They're so huge. And it seems that the bigger the country is, the higher is the competition. And thus, you know, you kind of have to compete harder to get a good job and then you have to pay more and everything.
Like some kind of a raise and you have to... I don't know.
Well, I wonder how effective these... The research was. I'm not sure how...
Yeah. Who held it, actually.
So I don't really know too much about the organization itself, but...
So Russia, let's say... I think it's number 80.
Maybe the people have a bias against Russia.
I think they do probably.
Yeah, maybe they're not too nice to Russia.
Ask the Russians in 2022. It's going to be like, you know, a hundred.
Seriously? They're happier?
Yeah, I was quite surprised about the United States, to be honest. I didn't know that the States would be 16. I mean, I'm not totally, completely diss America because I love America, but... 16? Come on. I wonder who they asked.
So out of curiosity. Well, what place is Japan? If you have this list, open.
Good question. Let me search by country. So Japan is... I believe it's number... one second.
They didn't make it to the top ten.
So, you know what is interesting is that... So... There is this... Have you ever heard about the blue zones?
So, the blue zones are the countries where they have the longest life expectancy, the highest number of centenarians.
Yeah. Japan is definitely there.
These blue zones are, for example, Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, some places in Costa Rica, Greece, California in some places. So, and you think, okay, people live the longest, they are the healthiest. So, you can't expect them to be the happiest. And it's interesting not to see these places in the top ten. None of these places are in the top ten. But the cold and dark places are in the top ten. So, very interesting.
Yeah. And also the bigger countries is kind of hard to get realistic, reliable results because you have different points, parts of the country. So... Well, speaking of Russia, I'm sure if you're from, I don't know, maybe like Krasnodar or Kranodarskiyi coast, you're probably gonna have a nice quality of life, right? Yeah, much nicer place to live. Whereas if you live in, I don't know...
Norilsk or something. Actually maybe Norilsk is not as depressing because there's like a community and people look after you.
Okay, maybe it is. Maybe some places are much more... Yeah. Whereas in Finland, I mean it's quite a big country actually. It's not huge, but it's quite a big place. But the population is concentrated more in certain spots, whereas Russia, it's all over the place. You have people... Yeah.
Well, it's all... It all comes down to infrastructure and what people have.
Well, let's focus on America a little bit. What... Which parts of America do you feel are the happiest?
Well, according to... Gosh... That's actually... You know what? I've recently watched a video where people were answering the question "What's your dream home?". Where would you live if you had a chance to, you know, be wherever? 90% of people say California. So I would expect people in California or people in the Midwest. Even though there's little to no infrastructure over there, I don't know. It kind of gives the Californian vibes.
I, I would think the happiest people probably from, you know, maybe the Midwest or maybe Idaho, somewhere like...
Because you have beautiful nature all around you and...
You know, it's Midwestern states that have a very strong sense of community. Like, you know, they do have this community.
They also have a lot of Scandinavian. People of Scandinavian origin.
In the Midwestern states.
Yeah. So like a lot of people from Norway, from Sweden, they migrated there. Yeah. For instance, if you look at what...the transport secretary for the states. I think it's Pete... I can't remember his last name. Buttigieg. He's from or he has Norwegian roots. So yeah. Okay. So America, big country, many different states. Of course, maybe people in Hawaii are quite cheerful. Maybe people in, maybe people in... let's say...
Actually, I would say Hawaii used to be the happiest. Not sure about now, though.
Well, Alaska, maybe people are not too cheerful. I don't know. I've never met people from Alaska.
I used to have a student from Alaska. Yeah. From... What is it? Do you know...?
Yeah. The capital. Well, Anchorage is the big city there...
She was not very excited about going back home.
Well, why not? I mean, because Juneau's... I mean, is the city..
Cold, far, expensive. Oh, I just described Yakutia.
Wait, so, she was a student here in Russia?
No, no. She was a student back in Wellesley.
Oh, okay. So, in Massachusetts. Oh, okay. So it's quite a long journey, I guess.
You have to go to what? Seattle and then you have to fly up there. So, yeah. Well, some countries... Well, one country in particular has a happiness minister. What do you think? Do you think it's worth spending money or government resources on it?
It depends on what they do. If they come to your house and just ask you, are you happy today?
Well, okay. You have to mention what country that is. Because that's Denmark.
So and Denmark is number two. So, apparently they know what they're doing.
Maybe it is... But there's another country that famously appointed recently as well. Can you guess?
Is it going to be ironic and funny?
Well, no, it's just interesting. It's actually the UAE. United Arab Emirates. Dubai, Abu Dhabi. Yeah. I mean, loads of money in that country. So, they have a lot of extra resources for that. Let's say you're a developing country. Do you think you should appoint a happiness minister or do you think you should?
I think it's kind of a utopia.
Right. Like you're the one who's responsible for your own happiness and not like some prime minister.
Yeah. So, not the government's responsibility. Yeah.
Actually, I think it depends on what you think happiness is. If it's the thing that surrounds you.
Oh, we're getting there. To the deep meaning.
Yeah, exactly. If it's infrastructure, if it's, I don't know, the scenery, what it looks like. If it's happiness for you, so, maybe like some kind of..
I'm talking about immaterial stuff. If we talk about infrastructure... yeah, somehow it could work.
Well, yeah, obviously Scandinavia has good infrastructure, but they also do have a high... A pretty high suicide rate as well. So, maybe all the sad people are...
So, infrastructure is not like happiness, not equal to happiness, you mean.
It's so complicated. I'm not sure that...
Yeah, we can't really, you know, just narrow it down to like 1-2 aspects or something.
A lot of people in Africa are happy.
Yeah. And they have very.. like normal lives. Yeah. Just like basic lives. Yeah. And they can find happiness.
Yeah. I don't know. I would think Thailand would make to top something list. Actually...
Let's have a look. Let's see what Thailand comes.
Because they're so chill. They don't care about much things.
They have really good fruits and vegetables and stuff like that.
But the environment is great.
So, it comes before Japan.
Who did they ask? Seriously?
But also come way before Russia.
But I mean just twenty... Not so much.
So, what about Vietnam? Vietnam... That's... It's kind of not too different to Thailand.
I would say it's really different, actually.
I've never been there, but you have.
It used to be a colony. So it's a totally different mindset, I would say.
Oh, yeah, of course. Because what Thai has a monarchy and it has its own like...
Yeah, they're like on their own somehow. But Vietnam is still, they still look up to Europe, you know, somehow. So yeah, France. Yeah. I don't know. White people of some kind. This thing. But in Thailand they just... Okay, white people so nice, they have nice skin, but that's it. So they don't have much respect. I wouldn't say so.
So, Vietnam comes at 77. So, but they have really nice fruit and vegetables and maybe it's...
But they're much poorer, I would say.
They have very strict work ethic and... Perhaps it comes down to that as well.
That's interesting. Whereas I believe in Scandinavian countries they work like two days, maybe not two days a week, but... They have like...
What about Indonesia? Can you check that too?
Let's have a look at Indonesia. So... Um... Indonesia comes up, what do you think it is?
It's pretty low. It's 87.
And it's really poor. Most people are poor.
Exactly. I believe on the island... Is it Java? There... the island of Java has more people than Russia has. Which is absolutely huge. So yeah... So, coming back to infrastructure, what do you feel makes people happy, Olga?
Well, I don't know. It's so hard to, like... Again to come down to one thing, right? Because it depends.
What is your definition of happiness?
Oh it's, it's something immaterial. Absolutely. Like, I think you can feel happy if you live in a good environment. You have people you love around you. And you have like great work and you know, it doesn't have to be something material, I guess. So, that's what happiness to me. Like something immaterial. The opportunities you have, for example. So, that's what makes me happy.
Speaking of that, by the way, have you thought about the Maslow pyramid? So, the first one is like basic needs. Then it's like up on top.
If you have all the basic needs covered, like if you have food, if you have...
But you have like a lot actually.
Right, right. So, only then you can say like, yeah, I'm happy, but... Yeah, I agree. Like, if you don't have money to buy food, you won't be happy, I guess.
You can't really be happy, yeah.
It's good you mentioned that. Yeah.
What about you, Katya? What's your definition of...?
I would agree that, first of all, it means having all of your basic needs met. And then good mental health.
What is good mental health?
I mean, that's what makes you happy.
Just like maybe... Cause may be different people...
I mean, if you have depression or not.
Yeah. Not having into any mental issues that you have to struggle with and that affects your life.
By the way, speaking of that, what do you think about bipolar people? So, they either are really happy or really depressed. So, they are happy... The manic, the manic.
Well, I mean, look, in this case, you still can get you know, you can be on meds and everything that can kind of keep your mental state... Stay in a good state. Yeah. Yeah. Of course. When you have the, you know, these sort of periods and the depressing..
Yeah, blue periods, then of course, it's really hard to say about happiness because you do not feel happy. And then... When you... It's very ironic, actually, because very often people like when they reach their manic state, they're like, oh, I'm so happy, you know, I don't have anything. Oh, no, dude, that's your manic state. Like, come on. No, that does not mean that everything's fine right now.
Do you know anyone who suffers from bipolar?
Well, any celebrities do you know?
It must have been a lot of them, right?
I think so. He might have been..
Because he wrote, well Nirvana wrote a song called Lithium. And lithium is...
Oh, yeah. It's a pill for... Basically for...
Yeah, exactly. It's the main... I think it is the main drug. I'm not pharmacist, but...
Wait, Benjamin, you ask us questions, how do you define happiness? Throwing us under the bus.
How do I define... Question. I would say happiness is not something that is static. You can't be happy consistently.
Yeah, it's. I would say it's an aggregate. Some of many different factors.
For instance, if, um... Well, of course life events are going to happen. But I would say it's kind of like minimizing those terrible life events. Because obviously if you have a close, even if you're like a...uh, let's just say someone who has a lot of dopamine. Even if you're like a happy or in that... In terms of hormones if you're a happy person. And if someone close to you dies, you're going to be really sad regardless.
But again, maybe not as sad as the person with low dopamine or low oxytocin or something like that. This person probably would be like much more upset.
So, I would say people who... Or happiness is, it's kind of like the opposite of like having... Well obviously you have your basic needs but not having as many horrible life events in your life.
What do you think about the Buddhist approach to that? You know, like happiness is impossible. And you always try to reach it, but you never do.
Yeah. You have to make peace with that.
Yeah, exactly. For me, actually, I think happiness is kind of like that. It's like it's more peace. Peace and beauty, I think.
Well, you know, it's all about, like, how nature works. Like there's no good or bad events for nature. Like, everything is neutral.
Exactly. Right. It's just your reaction.
Right. That's how you feel towards that. So, it's up to you to choose whether you are sad or happy at the moment. So, yeah, you know, I actually tend to apply this approach to my life as well. And, you know, life has become easier.
Yeah, it's a matter of perspective. I generally agree with that. Some people, though, can't control their hormones or have hormone inbalances.
That's not really. You can like. Okay, dopamine. Come on, chop-chop.
Well, what is dopamine? I mean, none of us are like scientists or anything, but...
And yet you're asking his question.
What do you think? What is dopamine? I mean...
I googled it before the podcast. And I forgot to be honest.
But there are like three hormones of happiness. It's oxytocin. It's something that basically makes you happy because of connection. So, you know, you hug a person and you feel happier or something like that. Then dopamine, it's some kind of pleasure. For example, you scroll your news feed...
So when you achieve something mostly as well.
Also that, yeah, exactly. So it can like for example, if you get too much dopamine, it kinda... Like goes slower and it's harder to get it again. And the last one is serotonin. Oh, I forgot where it comes from.
Is that sleep? I think it's melatonin.
Yeah, exactly. Serotonin.
So, I remember if you take melatonin tablets, they give you weird dreams, apparently.
I haven't tried. I've heard people... Have you tried melatonin?
Oh, God, yeah. I've been living off melatonin. And when I was in the US. Oh, God, it really helped in the time of insomnia. Kind of harder to wake up after. Like not to wake up... Kind of like you... Well, yeah, because you kind of can get up and feel like I'm still sleepy.
I mean, maybe we can talk about this in another podcast. Sleep.
Yeah. Yeah, that's a good topic.
Yeah. Well, I guess sleep is definitely linked to...
Actually to our listeners... We have had a podcast on health and a sleep was a major part of that podcast. So, check it out.
Yeah, for sure. Definitely interesting to go into that topic in more depth for later day.
Yeah. I'm pretty sure that sleep has a huge effect on people's health and restores or replenishes your hormones and, yeah. What about physical exercise?
Yes, definitely. It makes everybody so happy. At least me. I don't know. I guess, again, biologically speaking. So, you get a lot of oxygen in your body... In your system. So, like you increase your metabolism.
Yeah. You just made want to breathe. What do you practice, like a breathing technique or do you..?
Actually, I do. Like I mean, I try to, like every morning into, like there are some exercises from yoga and you just do them. Like at first you breathe really quickly, then you hold the breath for some time and actually it makes the oxygen come to your brain and actually you feel more awake. I would say.
Yeah. Cause I heard this breathing technique Buteyko. Have you heard of Buteyko? It's this Ukrainian guy who I don't know much about it, but he developed this breathing technique, and you have to hold in your breath and how you need some carbon dioxide. And apparently you do.
Yeah. But it was from yoga, actually.
Oh, okay. So he stole it from yoga.
And I think he probably did too. He might have.
My grandma said that's how she got herself, let's say, cured from allergy.
Yeah, so it helps. But, you know, I've never tried it like I'm afraid like I don't know what it is... Like. I'm not sure how it works.
Oh she's, yeah, definitely. Like she's one of the happiest person in the world I guess. Even though she, you know, she's been through a lot. She had really terrible events in her life and you know, once I asked her, but how can you like... First of all, how could you cope with that? Like she lost, really, you know, special people in her life. And she still feels absolutely happy after that. And I was all like, but how is it possible? And again, what she told me was like, but you just have to keep on moving and you just have to talk to people not to be alone and just, you know, accept it. Like, yeah, things happen and oh, well, they happen like... You can't help it. It's so yeah... She just like accepted it and I guess it's some kind of buddism as well.
So I think it really works and it helps you to cope with stress and with terrible...
It's kind of like you need some sadness in your life, too.
That's what Butters from South Park said. Yeah, he said that.
I did not know that. I love, love South Park.
You should watch it again then.
Well, actually let's analyze your... So does she live in the countryside or does she live in the city?
She lives in the small town. Like it's really, really small. And, you know, they even have one main road, I guess. That's it. Yeah.
And she knows all her neighbors, I guess.
Sure. Yeah. The last time I visited her, we had to stopped near each person, and she talked to them, like, for 10 minutes, and I was like, okay, grandma, let's go. We're in a hurry.
But it's really important. This sense of belonging.
Yeah, that's what makes her happy, I guess. Like, she knows that she can rely on someone.
Well, that's kind of what Scandinavia is like. Everyone has their own kind of family and they... Well, I have a lot of experience in the Netherlands. I love that country and everyone... A lot of people say that they're kinda close to other cultures even though they are... It's a very international country. The Dutch like to stick among themselves and they... But I guess maybe because they're kind of a close culture. Maybe.
Do you still have it open?
Yeah. Let's have a look. Let's have a look. Well, so which one on the list? You want the Netherlands.
Oh, Scotland's part... It's in the United Kingdom.
Come on, come on. Scottish would have loved, you know...
Netherland is in the top 10. So, Netherlands I think was... It was in the top ten. It's number five. So they're pretty high up there. But like we said before I wonder who they are, how they are... I think the Netherlands is that... Even though you do have a kind of class system, everyone's kind of all in it together in the Netherlands. Whereas in Japan, like you have this really strict like class system there. Where you have emperor class and you have...
I thought about Scotland because... it's kind of same climate as in Denmark. For example or Finland. And people stick together. Like Scottish people don't let other people in. So, they'll just kinda you're an outsider, so you don't...
They have the right community.
Oh, right, you've lived for half a year there, right?
In Scotland, in Edinburgh.
Oh, so yeah. Tell us more about that. Did you get to meet a lot of Scottish people?
That's a problem. I usually get to know people really easily. But it was coronavirus.
It was 2020. So, like, you meet a person in the street and you...
And they're like social distance. Don't come near me.
Exactly. You can talk, but still, like they don't invite you over, of course, because it's kind of... It's dangerous. So, it was dangerous.
So, you would be mainly in Edinburgh the whole time?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So then..
Did you check out any regions like outside of Edinburgh?
Highlands just a little bit.
It was so cold. It was in March. It was so windy and so cold. No Siberia cold, of course. But still it was.
I think like I kind of see Scottish people and Russian people as not being too different, you know, like they have this kind of like cold exterior. But inside they're quite warm, nice people.
Mhm. Yeah. If you get in.
Yeah. If you get in. Exactly.
Yeah. I'd say Scottish people... I don't know, I wouldn't say they're too happy because we have the film Trainspotting.
Oh, yeah. Like Scotland is...
Scotland does have a bit of a drug problem, especially with heroin, around Glasgow.
It's interesting because again, the same climate's more or less like... I don't know... Iceland? For example. Denmark, I think. So... But still a difference.
I just mentioned drugs, do you think drug consumption has effect on...? I don't think people in Scandinavia take that many drugs. Maybe I'm wrong.
Every country takes a lot of drugs.
Some countries less like... I dunno.
Actually, speaking of Thailand, you know, they legalized drugs, like, um... Marijuana. Yeah.
Cause I've heard that they were very strict on...
They used to be. I mean they used to be to foreigners. Yeah. Because they used to speak to some people there and like local people and they told me, okay, so they actually use a lot of marijuana, you know, like a lot. And it's like, but it's illegal here. And they're like, okay, if a policeman comes to me and they see I'm using some drugs, I will just say, Come on, I'm a Thai person. I'm your neighbor. Yeah. But if they come to foreigner, oh, god, it's going to be really bad for the foreigner of course. Yeah. So, it's again, for local people it's fine. For outsiders it's not.
The reason why I said, finally, is because there's so many foreigners, as you know, who go to Thailand to get absolutely wasted. And they... There was what was it called again? Shroom Mountain?
Oh, yes. So, there's a lot of shrooms.
Yeah, I'm too scared to do shrooms and stuff like that.
In university, there was a lot of people who...
That escalated quickly from the topic of happiness, huh?
Oh, it's all kind of related drugs and happiness, actually.
Some people say that shrooms made them happy.
Yeah, I went... I once went to Full Moon Festival. You know what it is? Yeah. People just get wasted. I didn't. Yeah, honestly, but people were really inadequate there. So, they looked kind of really creepy.
So, I guess that what happens, like, in every festival.
Yeah. Yeah, that's why people go there.
Yeah, but here they were, actually. Mushrooms you could buy, like, you know, cocktail at the bar. Easily. With mushrooms. So... and it was scary.
Oh yeah. I've heard the shroom shakes. Yes.
Milkshakes. They probably taste horrible. I can imagine.
Yeah. I wonder, what if they use soy milk? Oh.
Yeah. Oh, alternative milks, yeah.
Yeah, yeah. Well, the reason why so many people take drugs is purely because it makes them feel happier, at least for... For a brief moment.
Also out of curiosity, I think.
Oh, sure, yeah, definitely for... I guess like acid or shrooms. Yeah. Whereas if you take crack out of curiosity, it's kind of like, what's wrong with you? Yeah, yeah. Guys don't do drugs.
Oh, yeah. Um, okay, well, let's talk about pets. So pets and happiness. What do you guys think about emotional support pets?
They do support you. I can tell you for sure.
Every pet is an emotional support.
So they definitely keep you happy on a plate.
So, you know, when I have bad days or, like, I guess we all have mental breakdown sometimes, right? So, the one time I had that kind of mental breakdown, I was lying and crying, and my cat went straight to me, looked me right into my eyes. And you know what I saw in his eyes? Like, I was like, oh, god. Okay. And, you know, it made me feel really. I don't know, like, okay. Like he looked at me like he wanted to tell me something like, it's okay or something like that. I don't know.
That's interesting part about it because obviously animals don't understand that. They're just being themselves.
Maybe it's our imagination.
It's our perception. Yeah, it's how we see it.
Meanwhile the cat... Hey human, you're alright? If you die, who's gonna feed me?
Yeah, right. As far as I heard, like cats can eat your chicks. Like if you die.
Well, they eat your cheeks? Yeah. That's so funny.
You have a very, very interesting definition of funny.
Well, I care for this cat all my life and he eats my cheeks.
But if you die, if they didn't do it, like, on a daily basis.
They like recycling, you know?
But pets definitely do bring some comfort.
I remember I had a cat... So sad when it died. Really sad. But this cat was like a dog. Like, the dog would come... It would come to me, and it would like you literally wag.. she would wag her tail. Oh, she was so nice. And I would sometimes... Well my old house had a few floors and I would... My room was on the top floor and I would sometimes want her to come upstairs and I would pretend to be really sad and I would wail. And then you can just hear her little bell coming upstairs and...
She would come to my rescue.
So that's what I'm talking about.
Yeah. Not that I was sad, but I would like pretend to be sad.
Right. So they may not understand your feelings, but they may feel, I guess, that something's wrong with you. I don't know. Maybe it's your vibes or something.
I used to have a cat, and I had her since I was eight, and she died when she was like 15 or 16.
It's still sad when they go.
But I was away in Indonesia and my parents didn't tell me because they didn't want to upset me. And I came there and I was like, Where is Monya? And they were like..
Yeah, exactly. And it was so sad. I was, like, really crying because it was, like, part of the family, actually.
Right. Yeah. Animals do become like, you know... They're not just pets. Like a decoration, but they do become a member of the family.
A decoration? But yeah, like I've said a few times before, I've got a pet rabbit. And yeah, it does keep me happy. I like... I love my pet rabbit, but I didn't like it the other night. We let it...
Well, you have a... Now you got a pet rabbit.
I forget it every time. And every time I'm surprised.
Oh, yeah. Oh, I've got, like, a mountain of photos. Yeah. Two nights ago, my wife and I, we let the rabbit walk around the apartment at night. So, normally we... We put it in the kitchen or we put him in the kitchen or on the balcony if it's the summer. And... Um... He decided to, to pee and poo all over our bed.
Yeah. That's, that doesn't make us happy, you know, so...
Well, that's what animals do.
So still you have ups and downs like...
Yeah. And that makes you happier. Yeah, because...
They do make us... Yeah. It's like, really soft and it doesn't smell. Whereas, like, dogs can smell. Yeah, lovely, nice fur. But it's scared of everything.
But they do keep you happy. If you have the energy to clean up after it. So yeah. Um... Well another question I have for you guys. So, at what age would you say people are generally the happiest?
I think that in general most of the kids are happier because they don't have to worry about rent, they don't know about the burdens of, you know, adulthood and everything. They don't have to worry about their health, they just don't have to worry about anything.
Right. But they still don't have that much freedom.
Yeah, yeah. Freedom is...
Free... When I got my first place, I was so happy. Sorry, mom. I know you're listening to this podcast, but...
She definitely does. Religiously. Every episode. Not that I dislike my parents, but it's just... Yeah. Living... Having your own apartment... That's amazing.
So liberating. Mhm. Um, yeah.
So, I guess maybe your twenties can be like one of the happiest. Like, you don't really have a family, you don't have kids, you may have not mortgage as well. So, you just... And you earn money and you can travel to some places. You can meet new people and you have new experiences. So yeah.
I think it all depends on yeah, on a very particular person, let's say a lot of people in their twenties in the U.S.. They're like... hundreds of thousands of student loan? Like, what the hell am I gonna do?
But it depends on the country as well, right?
On a lot of things. Yeah. I guess we cannnot just connected it to age. Although I still do believe that kids in general are lucky bastards who don't have to think about all that...
What about older people? Like in their 70-80...
Yeah. I guess when you reach a certain point, you stop giving an F. We stop caring.
And they just talk about death. So... Like it's okay...
You mean older people? Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Like some kind of acceptance.
Acceptance again. They're like, so Buddhist. Yeah.
You haven't met my grandma, you know. Again, that depends. Yeah.
Well, no. I think for guys, I think thirty's a pretty good age. I mean, at least for me, I quite like being 30. It's fun age. Yeah. Okay. I've got a controversial question here. Are single people happy?
Hmm. Again, you cannot really connect that with being single or being in a relationship or being married or something. Because if you do say that while you're single, you're unhappier. That means that you put the pressure of being happy onto another person. And if you're not happy with yourself, you know, being on your own, how the hell are you going to be happy with somebody else?
It's definitely not black and white, because if you're in a terrible relationship, it's...
If you're in a bad relationship like a...It's gonna be rotten.
I think it's like a mistake that a lot of people make in this country. Because they're like, oh, you're going to get married, you're going to be happy. You know, like...
You become dependent on the other person because you think that your happiness solely depends on them. And when it doesn't work out, you're devastated, you know. No, that's. No, you should be happy on your own. And then you will be happy with whatever partner you choose for yourself.
So that's why people say that, first of all, you should love yourself and then like people can love you, right?
Well, I think the queen RuPaul, if you don't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else? Can I get a name in for that?
Yeah. Definitely don't want to be in a bad dead end relationship.
So, I guess that's why people actually get into that relationship. They don't really, like, appreciate themselves.
Or a lot of people like, Oh, I'd rather be with somebody else rather than alone. And they don't care who there's somebody else is.
Yeah. Mean, obviously, being in a good relationship is amazing, but if you're in a bad relationship... Any day is better to be single than..Yeah, any day. Exactly. So, yeah. Well, let's move on. So, do you guys ever follow these YouTube channels about the law of attraction?
The Law of Attraction. So, have you heard of this famous film called The Secret?
Oh, yes, there was... There used to be a mad craze about it, like in 2014.
Something like that. We entered the university.
Yeah, I saw... It was, like, university days.
Yes. Did you ever get into it? Did you ever...?
I was really critical about that. I remember girls were like, Okat, watch The Secret. I'm going to be the happiest. I'm going to reach a success. I'm going to have a villa in California. Or something like that. But I was like come on. It doesn't make sense. It's not... I mean, how can it work? Like you just... I don't know.
Do you think there's an element of truth to it?
All these, you know, like, visualization and everything. So why do they...?
That was the word I was looking for. Visualization boards.
Why do they work, basically? Because when you visualize something, it's not about, you know, imagining it and it magically comes to you. No. It's because you have a clear goal in front of you and you're more motivated to do something and achieve this goal. So, let's say you want to achieve something. You have it in front of you. You're like, Hey, I gotta do something about it. This is the only explanation I have for that. Because you are more determined when you have a clear goal.
So it's about mindset as well. You have to have a positive mindset. Like, again, it's like, as I said previously, like, it depends on how... It depends on your outlook on life. You can keep on saying like, oh, life is bad and just, you know, sit on the couch doing nothing. Or you can just accept, yeah, life has its ups and downs, but I can use like I have, I have some, I don't know...
I have to use everything I can. Like, I have to do everything I can.
I mean, I definitely believe that these YouTube channels can make people happier. I'm not necessarily sure that they can help people actually achieve their goals. But definitely the whole process of, say, Oh, you have to have positive thoughts. Well, maybe that can stress people out, too.
Exactly. Thinking negatively and. Oh, my God, I shouldn't be doing that. Yeah, it's even more pressure.
There was a podcast. Unfortunately, I was not on this podcast about astrology and tarot.
Oh, that was fun. That was a fun one.
I'm quite interested in it. Yeah. I mean obviously I don't necessarily 100% believe it, but sometime occasionally, not recently. I look at horoscopes they're quite fun...They're great to...to use with students actually because it's a great tool. To like... To read English text.
Actually, I have a question not connected to any of those, but do you think your childhood and the way you had it has influence on your happiness? Like, for example, you had a happy childhood, so you're a happy person after that or vice versa?
So, for example, you had some of your parents leave? Yeah. And I don't know something bad happened in your childhood, had some trauma. I don't know... Maybe it's personal, but... like, theoretically. So, what do you think?
Of course it does. I'm sorry. I've been waiting for this. Of course it does. But... It affects your life as long as you haven't worked it through in therapy. Go to therapy. Therapy works miracles. It works wonders.
What if it was good? Like, really good. And then you compare all your life with the sensation of happiness that you had then.
Oh, that's, uh. That's another mistake which you can also work through in therapy. I'm... You can see I'm an advocate for therapy, you know? I remember this video where it goes, like, when I'm getting an rich, you're getting therapy, you're getting therapy, you're getting therapy, you're getting double therapy, everyone healing. So the thing is that... This is actually a mistake that a lot of people make. And I'm not excluded from this. Everyone. I have to say, I've been there, done that, that... A lot of people live in the past. Doesn't necessarily mean that they live in their childhood or anything, but they think, oh, that year was so good. I can never reached the same level of happiness. I can never go back and be as happy as I used to be. Well, guess what? It's wrong. You can still, you know, achieve some sort of happiness. So, just stop living in the past. It's not going to get you anywhere.
So it's all about, like, being in present and live in it. Not thinking of a past or future, just being here.
I wish I did what I preach. But, you know...
Well, to the extent you have to like focus on the future, a little bit like...
I have to do my homework tomorrow or else. Teacher's going to kill me.
Well, okay, you have to focus. But you don't have to think too much, right?
Don't want to dwell on it.
I have so many thoughts now. It's like...
I was talking about horoscopes. And... Do you think tarot can make people really sad and...?
Or do you think it could keep people... Could give people structure and you think it can bring people happiness?
I mean, the same as, you know, this human design thing that is kind of popular now. So, it gives you some sense of direction maybe. So, you just feel where you have to go, where you have to be. Like... I guess again, it's really hard for yourself to define yourself like, what am I? Like, What am I supposed to do? Yeah, but when a person, an authority, for example, a terror specialist, I don't know, tells you, okay, you have to do this, you're good at that. And you're like, okay, I accept that. And you follow this direction. Maybe it's good. For some people. I don't know.
Yeah. I mean, I think... Well, like Olga said, you have to focus on the present moment. I think taro is only focusing on the future, I guess.
But I guess they can tell you, like, presence.
I've never paid for a tarot reading. I used to have a tarot deck. It was really fun to play with. And I learned all the cards and it was... I should have been on that podcast.
Should have been. I think it was before you came here, no? I don't know, it was some time ago.
But yeah. Well, I remember that... What we discussed in that is that a reason why a lot of people believe the tarot readings, the horoscopes or whatever. Is that it's very general. You read it and they could never you never going to say, oh, it says you know you're intelligent but sometimes.. For example, there was this video by BuzzFeed. People wrote down their date of birth, time of birth and favorite color. And then they had a description of themselves. And it will show how they were reading it. And, you know, there was a phrase like, some of your aspirations tend to be unrealistic. Sometimes you're afraid to fail. They're like, Oh my God, that's so personal. And then they were invited to read some of those extracts, what they liked and they like. There was really personal moment. I don't know how they got it and they read it. And some of the guys like, Wait, I've got the same thing because all these things are always vague and general. Nobody's going to say, Oh no, I never have aspirations that tend to be unrealistic. We all do. We are humans. So...
What star sign do you think is the happiest?
Whatever. Whichever you are. You're listener.
What others star signs..? So, I'm the capricorn. What are you Olga?
Do you know? When's your birthday?
Oh, you mean that? Oh, so you mean like..?
Oh, I see. You were born in late July or August?
Yeah. I finally know the person because, you know, I have so many people in my life who were born like in August, like, oh, so it starts from like the fifth, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth.
Are you collecting now? Like, you know? Well, I want to meet people from the 1st to the 31st of August. You are a capricorn.
I have a lot of friends, who are Leos. Like so many.
Aries are great. I love aries.
Well, it just seems like people have nothing to do in winter so then. Some people break in August. I don't know.
Yeah. Oh, New Year especially.
Capricorns are quite moody star signs.
Oh, I suppose that they said about aries, they're conflicted, stubborn, like I am avoiding conflicts. I hate conflicts, so they're like, rude and everything. That's bullshit.
Would you say aries are happy people or do you think it's kind of...?
I don't know about other aries, you know. Not generalizing over here.
Yes, I have had a lot of aries in my life. Really a lot.
Were they conflict or rude?
Were they happy your aries?
Those two are not like, you know, excluding each other, not contradictory.
They were really intense I would say. Really intense.
Really intense, seriously. And since I'm also kind of intense, it's kind of always... A lot of fire, you know, like explosions and stuff like that. So, yeah.
Yeah, we're Capricorns. We are earth signs. We're very pragmatic, down to earth.
Yeah, yeah. That's what I've heard. Yeah. Like you always have a plan.
Yeah. But another question which is kind of related to what we were talking about regarding the law of attraction, do you consider yourself to be lucky people?
Is it connected to happiness?
Oh, I think it's... I don't know how to answer that. Sometimes I'm like, oh, I'm lucky. Sometimes I'm like, oh, that was, you know, that was luck. And then I'm like, No, that was not luck. That's your imposter syndrome. Saying it was luck. It was not. It was your hard work and everything. Exactly. So you know, it has again its moments.
Do you need... Can happy people be successful or do you need to be a little bit miserable to be successful? You need a little bit of misery to motivate yourself?
Hmm. Well, sometimes it's worse.
Yes, I think so. Because there is a person. Yeah, it's like kind of friend and he's super, super successful. I know he has millions of rubles of income every month and...
Millions of Zimbabwe dollars.
Or Indonesian currency. Yeah. And he tells me a lot about his trauma. So, in his childhood and he actually told me that he achieved all of this because of this trauma, because he had to prove all the people around him that he can do it.
So, well, it's like, you know, if you look at literature, for example, most of the authors were deeply depressed, you know.
Dostoyevsky, for instance. Yeah.
That you can... It shows, you know, in the books. Also Hemingway was deeply depressed. He was an alcoholic and everything. And we had to look at the books. You know, kind of got successful.
So, again, it's your outlook, like how you try to cope with trauma. For example, you can keep on saying, Oh, I'm so miserable. Or you can be like, okay, I have to gain some kind of experience from it and learn from it not to make, like, those kind of mistakes.
Yeah. So, do you think it's easier for happy people to become successful? Oh, it's harder?
Well, I would say there's less motivation. I mean, if you're happy, what's the point in doing anything else? Like you kinda need to have that fire under your feet to...
But on the other hand, when you're happy, you're more open to things.
I had so many aspirations in the happiest years of, you know, the happiest years. I was like, oh, I can also do this and that and this and that.
And also, people don't really want to be around miserable people so...
You know, that kind of can be good because, you know, then you know who's true and who's kind of, you know, been there just for a short time. For the time being.
Yeah. Well, I've got a final question that we can finish off with. So, for those of you who know The Matrix, you'll know that. You'll know what the blue pill is and the red pill is. Do you know what the blue pill is? And the red pill is?
Yeah, I googled it before the podcast.
So, the red pill. Okay. According to the Matrix, it's the blue pill. You take the blue pill, you live a life of bliss, but you do not know what the truth is. The red pill is...
So, basically, you know, most of the time we do not know what the truth is.
So, you live in a dream and you only have things that are pleasant to you. That pleasure you. The red pill is you discover the truth of the universe. And of course it's...
Wow, I just understood. It's a metaphor for Adam and Eve.
Oh, it might be because you take the apple. Yeah, like in the Garden of Eden.
And you get the knowledge.
You know what? I believe that if you take that well, the red pill, the truth and everything, the truth about the universe can drive people crazy. I think that we humans are not prepared to know the whole truth. It can be too much for our little brains. So... But basically, if you think about our normal lives, you know, nobody knows the whole truth about things and nobody will. So that would be the blue pill for me. A life of bliss, please.
Fair enough. Do we have any... are you a brave Red Pillar?
Yeah, sure. Well, ignorance is bliss sometimes. So, yeah, I would definitely take the blue pill.
I don't want to go crazy. Yeah.
I would like to say I'd take the red pill, but thinking about it probably might not be a good idea.
You know, I would take the red pill as long as you can turn it off sometimes. So, for example...
I don't think it works like that, you know.
You take a little bit of both.
I don't know. I would think that the people who take the red pill get rewarded in the end. And the people who take the blue pill, have...
Depression. You know, going crazy and dying. Yeah, well, you know, one way of looking at it.
So, guys, let us know. Would you take the red pill or would you take the blue pill? We want to hear all from you in the comments section. And for those of you who like Telegram, we have a really cool sticker pack which you absolutely need to download. It has my face, it has everyone else's face.
And I just want to very quickly say that I recently showed this sticker pack to my friends. It's been a hit. Really.
Me too. I showed it to everybody. And everybody was like, Oh, my God.
Yeah, there was a sticker with me as a homeless person. Yeah, you should see it guys.
Yeah. Check it out, please. Check it out.
Yeah, absolutely. Download it if you use Telegram and also check out our bunch of new videos. So, we've published a bunch of new interesting videos which have educational value and which are quite fun. So, you can find that which is on our website which is www.BigAppleSchool.com. And you can also see on our Telegram.
Yeah. And I think Benjamin, we should mention that those videos are not just videos, it's the videos where Benjamin speaks Russian only.
So if you... If that doesn't sell it. Come on, what does? Come on. Go and check it out.
Well, yeah. Guys watch those videos because me speaking Russian is... It's kind of about you guys learning English. Not you guys teachers. The audience. It's like... It's painful. It's a long process.
And I can emphasize with all my students who are learning English, I know it's hard. I know it takes a long time. So, you can watch me going through the same motions as you guys are.
Yeah, I've seen part of it and you use a lot of slang words, surprisingly.
Cool. All right, guys. So, yeah, give us a like, ask questions in the Telegram chat, and we'd like to hear suggestions for any future podcast that you have. So that's it for today. Thank you very much. We'll see you next time.