Society

cafebabel.com boys speak: what makes Europe’s twentysomething men happy

Article published on Oct. 21, 2011
Article published on Oct. 21, 2011
We girls probably think that macho attitudes, making money and succeeding are what make boys happy. After all, why is it so hard to get them to share on ‘happiness’? Apparently not. Winning a game, doing nothing, a tipple, the latest gadget, friends, girls - a pan-European select number of lads share what makes them smile – and why we girls are different. Vox-pop

‘As a guy it really feels like you are giving something away or drawing attention to your emotions (which is not very cool) to try to explain what makes you happy. That’s not something that makes us happy! Maybe we don't want to talk about what makes us happy because we think that destroys our idea that we just do whatever we feel like.

It makes me happy to fight for something I want to achieve, be it in a fierce football game, a project or something I need to prove to myself. That is really what drives me to do things, to feel like I can make a difference and am doing everything I can. Sometimes it is more the race than the finish line that puts me in a good mood. I also like to relax and feel good with friends, a girlfriend, classmates - just feel at ease and have no worries and no gossiping, being with people that I know very well and that I can have fun with without having to worry about small things. It’s having a good meal, going out to watch a show, going to the beach, travelling. As long as its a good bunch of people.’

Ulrik, 24, Copenhagen

‘Boys, men or whatever you like call us, we are still the same kids who still like doing the same things that we did when we were at primary school. The things that I love to do are the same that I did when I was 'thoughtless' (about social duties and women of course) and my only responsibilities were homework. I liked to play together with my friends, spend entire afternoons with them chatting, joking and hanging around my small town looking for nice girls to stare at. I grew up watching movies like The Goonies (1985) and Stand By Me (1986), and as a teen I loved The Catcher In The Rye (1951); these most describe what makes kids-boys-men happy at least, namely friendship and a free life. I am not describing an idealised past. I'm just lucky because I have friends with whom I shared this experience of youth, who are still my close friends, and will be for all my life.’

Giacomo, 28, Turin

‘Women are more demanding. That’s why they look for happiness more. They tend to be more unsatisfied, whereas men are simpler, happier creatures. Simple things in life that we tend to forget make me happy, like close friends and the good times we spend together. As an actor my happiness is also in being onstage and being seen. Maybe happiness is a childish thing – but I am for being an eternal child, that doesn’t bother me.’

Manuel, 24, Paris

‘Everyone has their very own individual trigger of happiness, so it doesn't necessarily depend on gender. Some feel happy when they're with their family, others when they're solving some puzzle or winning competitions. Happiness usually comes from being with friends and doing something really pointless (the sole point of which is just to enjoy ourselves). It's important to be aware of the moments that make you happy. As the late American writer Kurt Vonnegut brilliantly put it: ‘I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is'.’

Andras, 27, Budapest

‘What makes me happy would make anyone happy, be it a girl or a guy. It's my little nephew when we play, my grandmother sitting by the window every Friday waiting for me, a friend showing up with a cold beer, a sunny but tad chilly day, losing pounds after a holiday, finding money in my winter jacket…’

Aldin, 24, Sarajevo

‘When I go to the cinema, the few seconds of silence and darkness preceding the movie. To wake up in the morning knowing that I can sleep one or two extra hours. A good speech. The sensation of being alone and free and far away. The first sip of a cold beer. (Almost) anything made by Martin Scorsese. Sharp (but polite) observations. A long shower before going out on Friday night. To listen to Radio Nova. Lately, a good gin and  tonic I discovered to watch the opening scene of an episode of The Wire with.

Aníbal, 27, Barcelona

‘Happiness is nature - hitchhiking through the woods – it’s technology, geeky stuff and gadgets, empty spaces, whiskey - long john when the rain falls, a great atmosphere in a jazz club, good people, reading a book, travelling, swimming in the sea, good concerts, a warm meal, science…’

James, 27, Belgrade

‘Girls share the same feelings with boys about basic happiness - a glance or a hug that makes their day. In an era of technological expansion everybody is easily satisfied with the newest gadget. Such things make us happy on a short-term basis, like a childish happiness. Modern lifestyles makes true happiness harder; now we need a lot more from our partners, work etc. We've became more selfish and we may not even recognise anymore that the little things are the ones that should make us happy.’

Boris, 29, Skopje

‘It makes me happy to be an uncle for the first time, to be meeting up with good old friends tonight, to live with the woman I love and to follow the awakening of the #ows (Occupy Wall Street) movement.’

Thomas, 27, Aarhus

‘You need a balance to be interested and stimulated - books, films, music, conversation, learning. You need things to enjoy just for the sheer fun of it - dancing crazily all night, drinking myself under the table. You need to do very little because that’s what you want at the time - good food, relaxing. All these need a social aspect to make them what they are, so you could add close friends and family around you to that mix. If the balance isn't there, and you only have one, that one thing will cease to make you happy - like going out every night.'

Robert, 20, Edinburgh

‘The only gender difference is that women know more then men what happiness is for them and how to look for it. Men care as much as women about it, but for them it is a more random event to be happy; they don't want to go crazy when searching for it. Happiness is good moments: your girlfriend or a child smiling at you, your team scoring a goal, walking through a new town with music in your ears, achieving something at work, a small moment of fame, enjoying a wonderful movie. But this feeling never surrounds you, it just strikes you time to time.’

Nicola, 26, Sassari, Sardinia

Image: main (cc) lsiegert/ Flickr/ ccs.neu.edu/home/lsiegert/; in-text Batman (cc) kevin dooley/ Flickr; girl (cc) dollen/ Flickr/ dollen.com/