30 November 2011

US vs UK Cultural Differences + Post Of The Month Club

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

I just got wind of a discussion on November 4th at the London School of Economics

 American Sarah Lyall (New York Times London correspondent) sat down with 
Englishman Justin Webb (author and former BBC correspondent in the US) to scratch the surface 
of cultural differences between America and Britain

A few topics covered were politics, the media, raising children,
drinking, stoicism, recent protests, and religion

Touched on in the video, happiness is listed in
the American Declaration of Independence as an 'unalienable right' in
the well-known phrase, Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

To rephrase, the US government declares this state of mind not only a right and a valid pursuit
but also as important as life and liberty
Isn't that fascinating?

As a result, are Americans obsessed with happiness?

The title of my blog includes the word 'Happy'
Other blogs with the title 'Happy' tend to be written by Americans too

Americans say 'Happy Halloween' and 'Happy Thanksgiving'
Merry Christmas is a British phrase which dates back to at least 1565 }

Common American phrases include
'Whatever makes you happy' and 'I just want my kids to grow up and be happy'

Americans often make big decisions based on a happiness litmus test

Perhaps a US slogan could be 'Be Happy - Be, Pretend, Or Search'

I lived in Costa Rica for a few years, where their motto is 'Pura Vida'
which translates to 'Pure Life' meaning 'it's all good'

I can't put my finger on what the mantra for the UK would be
I'm sure my readers can help :)

For the readers in America, notice how often you hear the word 'happy' as you go through your day

Anyhoo, lots of food for thought in the interview
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts

The video is quite long, so view what you want...
Whatever makes you happy :)

* What is the red flower Justin Webb is wearing? Read about it here

* I believe in the video they are referencing Justin Webb's newest book, Notes on Them and Us: From the Mayflower to Obama - the British, the Americans and the Essential Relationship 


It's Post Of The Month Club time again, little muffins

I've extended it through the weekend, due to reader requests

I read every single entry, every single month :)

Just link up your best post from November - easy peasy

And if you'd like, add the button to your post or blog so more can join in

If you have a chance, drop by a few others to say 'hi'  {that's what makes it feel like a club}

A warm welcome to those new to linking in, those who occasionally do, and those who are here monthly

Your contribution makes the club what is it :) Thank you!

Wishing you a wonderful December!


little macaroon. said...

Thanks for posting this link, very interesting!

Robyn said...

hmm-not sure what the mantra for the UK would be...depends on the weather!! Going to think about that one!

Naturally Carol said...

I have often heard the expression 'fab' used on British tv programmes, but traditionally probably 'good' was used, British children were brought up to be good rather than happy and 'good weather' is talked about. This has been passed on to NZ and Australia too as we talk about things being 'good' a lot rather than ' happy'.

Pet said...

Well, after duty (posting my post of the month) I've been listening to the interview about English-American differences.
After listening to the first few minutes of it - I'll be back - I wouldn't mind a drink myself. A party without booze? :-)

Sarah said...

I think I've posted my post of the month, though it doesn't seem to be showing up. It may appear twice when it does - sorry!

Mantra for Brits: Fancy a cuppa?

Liene said...

Thanks for the linkup and another interesting post. I always thought it intersting that our Constitution guarantees the pursuit of happiness... Attaining it is of course our own responsibility.

Felicity said...

I have some time up my sleeve this evening Laura and am looking forward to watching this video in its entirety as it has the UK v US divide has always intrigued me.

Happy day and thank you for hosting this wonderful club.

Robynne's Nest said...

Hi Laura, about to post my favourite blog of the month...easy choice...I think I only did two...been a bit slack lately...anyway Britain's motto is easy...Be happy but don't show it!

Kirsteen said...

As a Brit I think the totally over-used slogan in everything art/posters/crafts just now - Keep Calm and Carry On - would be a good mantra for us.

Or something along the line of 'just grin and bear it' since we are always grumbling about the weather but trying not to grumble, if that makes any sense!

Chelsey said...

I think a lot of Americans underestimate the cultural differences between the US and the UK because "well, they speak English." Frustrating! I suspect they assume an expat post in the UK would be easier than somewhere else in the world where the mother tongue is not English. And in some ways, I agree that not having a language barrier would have made things much easier for us at times (we are Americans in Sweden) but I do not underestimate the differences in culture that affect your daily life in the UK, even if everything is in English!

a happy little life said...

LOVED this. I really did. I watched the entire thing, some parts 2 times. This American, yes, HAPPY.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@ A Happy Little Life - that makes me happy :)

Robyn said...

Been thinking-got to be
'keep calm and carry on'

Beth said...

Hi Laura, I don't know what the UK mantra would be but I'll share a little observation. when someone asks "How are you?" in Britain the usual reply would be "not bad". in Australia the usual reply is "good thank you"
I think the British (and I can say this because I am one!) don't feel too comfortable with the happy, jolly image whereas the Australians have the opposite outlook. Sounds like Americans have the rightbhappy outlook too.

Carol-Anne (Use the Good Dishes!) said...

Canadians are a lot more like Brits in most ways. I used to think we were exactly the same (Americans & Canadians), but we do have some really distinct differences. We definitely are more British....including our speech and spelling!

Robyn said...

really enjoyable discussion by the way!

Victoria said...

Having been born in England to English parents, living in Canada from 8 to 14 and now the U.S. I agree with Carol Anne about Canadians, my stepmom's Canadian and although she and my dad live in the U.S. they have a place in Toronto...she goes out drinking with her friends there almost nightly! Both of my parents drink alcohol every night and always have, both of my step parents are Canadian and also drink nightly.
Very few of my friends drink, they'll occasionally sip on a beer or two but other than that they're not drinkers. Then the people I know who do drink throw down shots of hard liquor like it's water...there doesn't seem to be a happy medium!

This is a great video though! I'm only minutes into it but intend on watching the whole thing and am definitely sending it to my dad. Interesting stuff!!!

Maine Mummy said...

Interesting because I've only ever heard Brits use "Happy Christmas" and never an American. It's all Merry up here in Maine, not a single happy. I lived in England till I was 22 then married and moved over here.

justine said...

really enjoyed reading your blog and seeing your posts, sounds like you are making the most of living in England!

jayne said...

hey guys,
think the uk have the stiff upperlip attitude, everything's great, smile sweetly and carry on regardless, theres always a cup of tea to hand :-)

Miss Sandra said...

Once again I'm on board and so very "happy" to be so! Haven't watched the video yet since I'm still at work. :) Hope all is wonderful in your world.
Blissful tidings! xo

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@Beth- my neighbor just replied 'not bad' to me today! You are 'spot on'

Great dialogue, everyone!

barefoot mama said...

We are on a little trip in the car, I plugged this into the car. We are listening to this as a family. Giving us much to discuss on our little road trip.
I linked up my post of the month with my phone and I will add your link to my space as soon as I can use my computer.
Thank you! Barefoot mama

flowers on my table said...

Hi Laura, a very interesting topic you are discussing here. I haven't got time to watch the video tonight, but I shall return. Yes I do think Americans are kind of obsessed with happiness, but maybe it's better than obsessing over 'the weather'!Lots of love, Linda x

Nikki - A Mother in France said...

Yes American's do seem to be more optimistic than the Brits and I think that's a good thing on the whole. Us Brits are a bit reserved (to say the least), so sometimes find American enthusiasm a bit much, but that's their (our) problem! Funny, my theme this month has been '30 steps to Happiness and Contentment'. I guess I'm not your typical Brit :)

Susan Kane said...

I never thought that happiness was my right, my deserved piece of the pie. No, I thought happiness was what erupted in sporadic moments, not in long stretches. That would be boring.

Lynn said...

Funny, I never thought about "happy" and how often we use it in the U.S. It does seem to be a big value, something we want for ourselves and for our children. I guess I always figured it was that way worldwide, but maybe it really is a luxury. After all, you can't really pursue happiness until you're warm and dry and well-fed. Thanks for the thought-provoking post :)

ann said...

I like "Cheers." So British. (which I love). Simple and just happy.

you should be out on a meadow said...

america is barely out of diapers compared to it's elder.
of course we are naive enough to demand happiness over here.
we know little about surviving through wars, diseases and famines (among other things).
england has age, experience and the collected subconscious of centuries of generations to know it's about survival not happiness.
it must have been nice for the founders to be relieved of all that burden of history not mention the oppression.
"and let's throw happiness in while were at it"
" we deserve it"
"good idea. It was miserable over there"

Barbara said...

Is it so wrong to be happy all the time? I think that maybe if it wasn't raining in the UK all the time they would be happier too! ;)

This coming from the girl that lived in Manchester for almost a year and saw the sun about 5 times!

American in Bath said...

Sorry that I'm so late to the party. I don't miss the happy clappy of the US at all, but boy do I miss a holiday built around giving thanks. Hope you are well.

Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

Well I watched the whole of that. I would probably recommend only the first 10 minutes if you don't have much time - got quite dry after that and the people in the audience spoke too much. Really - how can you make one question to the subject last for 10 minutes?
It was quite balanced. The British are all drunks but the Americans are too gushing and obsessed with therapy. Hee hee.
Fascinating, though - thanks for the link.

Ariana said...

I enjoyed this dialogue very much-- totally fascinating. Have you read Sarah Lyall's book, The Anglo Files? I read it on the plane on our way over here, and highly recommend it. It was not only extremely entertaining, but helped me understand some of the cultural undertones here.

Mandi @ Southern Gnome said...

I can't wait to get home to watch the video. I just love this kinda thing. Happy December!

Eli said...

What an incredible batch of linked blogs. I think it is my favorite month so far. I love your posts, as always. Miss you.

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

Interesting topic! Obsessed with happiness? I think simply more comfortable being happy than the British. I am speaking very very generally here. But I have to say, the first time I heard Happy Christmas was in the UK!

Anonymous said...

It is the Declaration of Independence not the Constitution that has the words Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness in it. I'm no scholar but I think this was part of the declaration to explain why the Americans were dissolving their relationship to the Britsh Crown. Interesting. The freedom to pursue whatever makes you happy, what a blessing!

HolleyGarden said...

I came back to listen to the video, and did for a very long time (but, unfortunately, not the entire video - I ran out of time). It was quite eye-oppening to see Americans in a different perspective. It made me want to buy his book! Great topic for discussion.

Robynne's Nest said...

Hey Laura, that photo on my banner is from the American Country Living magazine and if you click on it I have linked it to the article. It relates to the Fabulous Beekman Boys...it's their house and barn...I've had that photo as my wallpaper on my computer and have been waiting to use it for my winter banner as I just love it. Apparently they have a show in the U.S....but the article will tell you all about it. I wish I could get my hands on that mag here in U.K. as I've been buying it for years in Oz and I miss it. Have a great weekend. Robx

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

So very nice to meet you I came over today from sweet Maureens site where she mentions you.
Congrats on such a wonderful blog you have and I am looking forward to being a new follower.
Interesting post and I hope you have a Happy Weekend. lol

Iota said...

Very interesting.

I think a British mantra would have more of a flavour of doing the right thing about it. It's a little watered down these days, but previous generations were all about doing your duty.

flowers on my table said...

Hi Laura, many thanks for your visit and kind remarks.
Regarding hairspray. If your container does not get handled very often, hairspray would indeed do the trick, though the finish is quite shiney. If it does get handled, or you would prefer a matt finish, use an acrylic clear matt varnish. (Ronseal does a good one). Wear a mask over your mouth and plastic gloves when brushing it on, if you are worried about it.This varnish will darken the colour very slightly but does not yellow.I hope this answers your questions, but don't hesitate to contact me, if you have any more.Enjoy the rest of your weekend, love Linda x

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Thank you, Linda! XOL

Malena said...

Yes, it's the PURSUIT of happiness that's considered our right. Outcome not guaranteed. One can succeed or flop. Or one might choose happiness regardless of one's circumstances. Or one may choose to be unhappy regardless...