Notes from a Small Country

Notes from a Danish lockdown

I’ve been self-isolating with my family for over a week now. All is good and we’re healthy.

What’s been amazing to see is how the Danes have responded to messages from the Prime Minister and Queen.

Upon being asked to take self-isolation seriously and stop panic buying, that’s exactly what most Danes did.

The streets and playgrounds are no longer as crowded and the stores have many of the shelves filled.

Society here, in general, has a culture of caring for others. I’m grateful to be isolating during this time in Denmark (they’re not out buying guns or hoping for herd immunity)

And keeping in the spirit of Danish calm and happiness, here are 2 tips that have been helping me and my family while we’re all at home together 24 hours a day! I hope they help you too.

1. Rewind, Repair and Replay

The 3R’s are a terrific tool for learning to recover when we make mistakes with others. And believe me, when you’re cooped up with loved ones for long periods, you’re going to make mistakes.

My wife and I are getting OK at this now, as we’ve had 7 years of practice (we discovered it through Pam Leo’s Connection parenting), but I do still fail often, and this week was no different.

So, if you find yourself getting stressed and short-fused with those you love, try the 3R’s approach, and remember it’s good for everyone, not just between you and your children.

1. Rewind – Acknowledge internally that you were hurtful or rude

2. Repair – Apologise for what you said and how you said it

3. Replay – Try again, only this time responding with kindness and the intent to connect (this is super important, without replay the repair is not as meaningful)

Here’s a good example from me this week:

In my mind: ‘Oh no, I grabbed Riley (my toddler son) away from the TV as he was pushing it, and I didn’t give him any warning for what I was about to do, he’s now crying and upset.’

To Riley: “I’m sorry I grabbed you without letting you know what I was going to do and why. It was the wrong way to get your attention. I love you (repair)”

To Riley: “Lets start over. I see you were pushing the TV and that’s dangerous, it could break too. Let’s go play with Lego, you’re brother has made a Lego squid, it’s amazing!”

If they can give you context verbally this is also where you listen to them.

2. Focus on optimism

Viktor Frankl once said “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Your kids and partner are at home and you’re all going crazy?

Just think of all that precious time you have with your loved ones now! If it’s your kids, then wow, you’re all really getting to know each. What about your pet? I bet they’re appreciating having you around? I know if I was one of the millions of dogs left at home for 6-8 hours a day I’d be loving it right now.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, remember another Viktor Frankl favourite

“The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude about the problem”

Optimism is a strategy, not a delusion.

Here’s wishing you health and wellness!


I hope you enjoyed this episode of Notes from a Small Country? I’d love feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

Notes from a Small Country

Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial

Imagine living in a place where everyone is cared for. A place where kids as young as 6 or 7 are safe to walk to school without supervision. A place where kindergarteners are outside most of the time climbing trees or baking bread over an open fire.

How about everyone being educated for free (including university education, where students are also paid a subsidy to study). On top of that, there’s free healthcare for all, no matter what a person’s income

I should also mention a drive of fewer than 20 minutes from the capital city takes you to an abundance of lakes and woodland as well as beaches. Places resembling Hundred Acre Wood from the Winnie the Pooh stories, where you can live and then walk your dog each day in beautiful scenic countryside, with no noise pollution from traffic or motorways.

Let’s throw in a living wage for all and public transport so connected, people have buses and trains every 10 minutes to almost anywhere within 20 miles of the city centre.

Sound too good to be true? It does exist as it’s where I’m living right now. What I’ve just described is the greater Copenhagen area in Denmark.

When something looks too good to be true, it usually is

Let me describe it again.

Imagine living in a place with some of the highest direct and indirect taxes in the world, where the average person pays over 40% income tax, goods have 25% value-added tax, car registration tax is up to 150% and there’s a media tax if you want to use the internet, own a smartphone or watch any kind of television

This is a place where entrepreneurship exists, yet the risk-averse culture holds back investment for many.

A place where everyone over the age of 15 is required to have a government digital postbox to receive post from public authorities. The login for this is also needed for online banking & paying of bills.

It’s a part of the world where people can often be seen drinking cans of beer in public places and 16-year-olds can legally buy beer and wine for consumption, of which 32% of them are reportedly drunk at least once in a 30 day period (the European average is 13%).

Still sound too good to be true?

In life, there is always balance

I’m neither a Socialist or Capitalist, a Labour or Conservative, a Republican or Democrat.

Life just isn’t that binary and issues are not as simple as black or white or yes or no.

Yet many of us live that way (think Brexit with leave or remain).

Democratic socialists in the USA have been describing Denmark as some kind of utopian society, one that Americans can look to for the ideal future. But is it really that great?

Funnily enough, the answer is not black or white.

Is it ’Nothing in life is free’ or ’The best things in life are free’?

The utopia of Denmark comes at a price. One I’ve personally struggled to come to terms with (I come from the UK where trust in government and the idea that high taxes yield any kind of benefit is extremely low).

The terrific kindergarten experiences, the open space and woodland, the clean beaches, free education and healthcare, it can only exist due to high tax and high trust.

I’m not sure the Danish system could ever work in countries like the UK or USA. The first requirement is trust in government. This is where it breaks down in countries like the UK, where government officials have slowly eroded trust over many decades.

Trust in government is the glue that helps citizens pay the high taxes needed.

“Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees. And both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.” – Henry Clay

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else

Denmark as a nation understands the rules of life. It’s not perfect (32% of 16-year-olds getting drunk each month is a problem it’s trying to tackle), yet as a society, the Danes appear to understand life isn’t binary, rather it’s a rollercoaster of decisions and sacrifice.

Decisions and sacrifice that result in happiness (Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world).

If we all embraced the detail, the idea that yes or no isn’t the only answer and those that challenge our way of thinking might just be worth listening too, I wonder what that would mean?

I’m betting it would result in more happiness.

And happiness is the ultimate currency.


I hope you enjoyed this episode of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

I’d love it if you’d subscribe to this article by signing up on this page, using your email. That way you’ll get a notification each week when the latest one appears.

See you next time for Episode 12.

You can follow me on Linkedin for daily notes on life and my 5 Share Friday – 5 interesting reads, life hacks or lessons, tried & tested by me.

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: Marcus Purvis Newsletters

5 Share Friday

5 Share Friday 13 Sept 2019

It’s back! After a break for a couple of weeks 5 Share Friday is back in your life. Guaranteed to come with more goodness than a goji berry and more excitement than a bungee jump off a bridge in New Zealand*

*actually more hope than a guarantee 

Quote I’m pondering – “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero.” — Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner.

The quickest path to happiness – In my quest to identify what makes us happy, I’ve found Amy Blaschka has nailed some great questions to ask ourselves. It’s primarily about perspective and you can read it in full here at Forbes.

Sticking with perspective – Seth Godin’s daily blog recently highlighted the importance of perspective with a terrific example: The anatomy of annoying. Here’s a snippet to entice you in and ponder “My biggest takeaway is that the key leap wasn’t in discovering that the sounds came from a radiator. The lesson is that acting like it comes from a radiator completely solves the problem…”

New favourite appNoisli enables me to mix and match my own soundtrack for productivity or relaxing. It’s a noise generator with sounds like rain, thunderstorms, wind, waves, birds and more. I’m finding it’s helping create an environment where I can focus no matter what’s going on around me. It also works offline so no internet required. Try it and see! (Free sounds via the website, small fee for the app)

Book I’m reading – My wife gifted me a book a few weeks ago. She randomly found it and instantly knew I’d want to read it. What’s it about? Well the title of the book says it all and I’ll say this, if you like Sonic the hedgehog and the Beatles this is definitely for you: Sonic the Hedgehog and The Beatles: A Comparative Analysis of the Games and Music

I hope you have a fantastic weekend doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.

Missed last weeks 5 Share? Find it here.

If you like this 5 share, please share with others. You can also get notified by email every Friday, simply sign up using the signup box on this page.

Notes from a Small Country

You’re always with yourself, so enjoy the company

“Listen to that, it’s sick! I’m gonna have one before I’m 30 to prove I did something with my life”

Said one teenager to another.

I was walking in London, from Whitechapel to Shoreditch.

Two teenagers were in front of me while a red Ferrari braked for the traffic lights. It then sat there revving its engine so everyone could notice and appreciate how awesome the driver was.

There’s no point showing off when there’s no-one to impress

It was a stark reminder of cultural differences between the UK and Denmark.

Differences such as confidence. Where in one culture your confidence comes from how others perceive you, and the other from how you perceive you.

I’ve been back in the UK this week, staying in Shoreditch for a work event.

Wow, I’d never really noticed how much we Brits seek validation from others (even those we don’t know or care about).

The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence

As a teenager, I wore second-hand clothing, read Batman comics and wrote BASIC on my Commodore Vic20.

None of those were accepted as cool choices in society back then.

And my confidence and self-esteem lowered continually over time.

It’s different for Danish kids. They’re happy with themselves.

When I first arrived in Denmark I mistakenly thought they weren’t an ambitious nation.

Yet I’ve discovered that Danes are ambitious, they just don’t like to show their ambition.

Ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose

Danes like to succeed, though not in public.

There are virtually no taboo lifestyles, meaning there’s no right or wrong life.

They can choose the life that fits them, the one they want for themselves.

Not the one society says they should have.

When I see a person, I see a person – not a rank, not a job, not a class

My son is in Kindergarten, and even at his young age it’s clear to see that Danes are taught no matter what their skills are, they are important to society.

As they mature into students, they learn and accept that those who are great at science are not considered more valuable than those who are great at knitting or cooking.

Isn’t that awesome?

(the correct answer is yes!)

“The main purpose of Danish education is to help students develop individual personalities…” – Malene Rydahl

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it

I feel just as successful in Denmark as I did in the UK.

But I have no car, I don’t own a house, and my clothes don’t have expensive labels.

The measure of success is different.

Also, the world accepts geeks as cool now, that might be helping.

I hope you’re living the life you want to live. Not the life society or others want you to live.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been” – George Eliot

I hope you enjoyed episode 6 of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

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See you next week for Episode 7.

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: Marcus Purvis Newsletters