Expand your Social Capital, or: More true Friends are always better

The view is great, but can't you enjoy it best when sharing with a friend?! (Alps, Kampenwand, close to Munich)

The view is great, but can’t you enjoy it best when sharing the moment with a friend?! (Alps, Kampenwand, close to Munich)

The new year is approaching, and while I don’t like the habit of New Year’s resolutions, there is one thing Woodpecker wants to focus on in 2013:

Expanding Social Capital

Well, Woodpecker, what’s that supposed to be? Social Capital?!? Can I eat this? Does it pay dividends?

OK, let me explain:
The more I think about the pros and cons of today’s society from a happiness point of view, the more I come to the conclusion that on the con side the major mistake of the last 20 years was the massive loss of social capital in favor of economic capital.

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Cheap Presents and the Presenter’s Paradox

A cablecar (although a bit smaller and much cheaper version ;) ): Favorit present of the year. Foto: Alps, close to Munich.

A cable car (although a bit smaller and much cheaper version 😉 ): Favorite present of the year. Photo: Kampenwand, close to Munich.

1) Gifts: What you can learn from observing kids

You have kids?

They are a great chance to learn something about happiness, because kids express their feelings and preferences very straight forward and transparent as social expectations and courtesy are not yet part of their reaction.

One interesting observation after Christmas (or after birthdays) is how they react to presents.

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How much consumption is really optimal?

Holidays creats a lot of satisfaction for Woodpeckers, so we spend a lot for them. But that might be different for you.

Travelling creates a lot of satisfaction for Woodpeckers, so we spend a lot on it. But that might be different for you. Photo: Périgord, France.

Hi there and a happy festive season (guess that’s the political correct expression for merry christmas, isn’t it?)!

Well, at least in Germany the consumerist part of Christmas is over (presents are exchanged on 25th of December), so it’s a good time to reflect a bit on consumption in general.

I guess concerning this issue there are two major opposing groups when I look around:

1) The more-and-more attitude

i.e. the materialistically driven group that is striving to maximize consumption ever more.
Consumption, materialistic gains, and all that belongs to it (like career, political focus on efficiency, perfectly trimmed CVs, status and it’s symbols) plays a major role for them. To different degrees they are consciously or unconsciously sacrificing many non-material pleasures in life (like social contact, idle-time, hobbies, travelling, chilling, creative work, benevolence) for the main purpose: “Getting ahead” and “achieving something”.
Whereas it seems to be pretty thinly defined what exactly the purpose of this “achievement” is in the end. Continue reading

How adsurd: An invitation to an A&F store opening in Munich

How stupid do you have to be to think this is an "event"?! (Opening of A&F store in Munich, Photo: Merkur)

How stupid do you have to be to think this is an “event”?! (Opening of A&F store in Munich, Photo: Merkur)

OMG, whatever it is worth or not worth apart from this, Facebook is always good for some fun / amazement about the world of the unfrugal common.

The other day I got an invitation of a distant Facebook-“friend”, celebrating the opening of an Abercrombie&Fitch Store in Munich which he went 200km (150mls) to Munich to see for.
What can I say? That might be excusable if the guy was a teenie of let’s say 16 years age, amazed and fooled in the same instant by the glamorous consume options of a modern world to which his parents have no access to.
But no, guess how old he is? Mid 30, like Woodpecker, and a solid man, working in an advanced position in an internationally well-respected consultancy firm.
I mean, what’s wrong? Spending a nice Saturday off in your car going 200km to crowded downtown Munich, just to cramp together with other stupid people and to wait for an super-expensive cloth shop to open its holy gates the first time?

Is this something you later tell your grand-children?

“Look you grandkids, those where the great old times, and your grandpa was THERE! I saw it! I was one of the few chosen happy ones who actually joined that great party in the magic November 2012, when we were so close to happiness. When the new A&F flagship shop in Sendlinger Strasse, Munich, opened it’s gates for the very first time! I was young and this was the GREATEST MOMENT in my life!! I wish I could go back and see it again!”

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Photo Post: Impressions from Berlin and Munich

Wow, December is always a busy month.

A lot of Christmas invitations and parties going on, quite a busy time at work and a lot of energy needed to convince everyone to at last reduce mutual christmas gift volume this year!

Therefore today only some more photos from my archive to add impressions to last post’s City Typology.

Click images to enlarge and for full description. Hoover for short description.


note the more representative appearance of the city.


note the more village-like appearance of the city.



A Typology of German Cities

Wherever you life, you might have noticed that the big cities in your country somehow differentiate among each other which area of life they „specialize“ in.

After Woodpecker had a great weekend with old mates in Berlin, Germany’s capital, this struck me worth a post – a funny and interesting topic, for Germans but also for visitors to our country.
And also plays a role on your path to happiness, as it’s important that your surrounding fits your individual needs.

So let’s look what we have in Germany (I’ll concentrate on our four major cities which I also happen to know quite good thanks to spread out family and friends)

A typology of this kind is obviously always highly subjective and somewhat generalising and everybody (includes me) has different views and preferences on things. So if you wholeheartedly disagree with my assessment – just kick me (or write a comment instead).


Germany’s capital, East, 3.5 m inhabitants.

Berlin, Brandenburger Tor. This is where the wall fell.

Berlin, Brandenburger Tor. This is where the wall fell.

Type of city
Germany’s only “real” metropolis!
And, out of the big four, the most difficult to describe.
It is quite international, hosts a huge pile of government functions, quite a few artists and media people, many lateral thinkers and a rich scene of subcultures. Very limited business and industry.
Describes itself often as “arm aber sexy” (poor but sexy), which fits well in my opinion. Continue reading