Don’t worry, be happy”. Most people might remember the song of the late 1980s by Bobby McFerrin. Very popular at that time already, it simply took a popular phrase from an Indian mystical preacher and then take this and compose an easy-going melody. Simplicity is the art here, not the complex arrangement of voices or orchestration. Similar to the shifting mood of the late 1980s when eventually even the Berlin wall came down, we are still in need of finding simplicity again.
This is a kind of a good starting point for the visit of the happiness exhibition in Brussels. At the beginning of the exhibition, you do a bit of reading on the neuro-psychological and sociological foundation of happiness to then move on to the more fun part of the exhibition: immergence into rooms of light and colours. Sound complements the visual experience decently. It is interesting to witness that children are immediately seduced by the joyful atmosphere and feel very comfortable in the rooms. Adults are more reluctant to let lose. Drop defences and walls we have become used to and just let go of our concerns of day-to-day hustle. “Don’t worry, be happy”, at least for a while. You deserve it.
The entry price of 16€ at the door is a not-to-be underestimated as an impediment to an entry into the world of happiness in Brussels. Children are free of charge, most of them are happy anyway if their parents spend time together with them. Happiness for many in society remains still a challenge. Art could contribute more in this direction as well. On the “Mont des Arts” happiness is near, it takes just some time and you are very likely to feel the effect of the artist’s creation through splendid interior design taking our senses and emotions seriously.

20th Century

The 20th century has told us many lessons. History does not repeat itself, but it appears that new variants of old themes keep coming back. Slowly passing the century like a movie in decades instead of episodes, we witness socio-emotional tides. The first decade, the 00s intensify the beginning of urban planning and social revolutions. The 10s show the arousal and subsequent extinction of masses of people in trenches. The 20s were described as the Carefree Twenties. In the 30s we observed the rising tides of fascist organisations followed shortly afterwards by the disastrous 40s. After the Shoah and the World War the 50s were fabulous viewed from the U.S. and Western Europe. The 60s propagated sex, drugs and rock n’ roll spreading across continents. The wild 70s became almost inescapable through the continued rise of mass media. The 80s were depicted as the colourful 80s as the 2 previous decades had set the scene for psychedelic colours. The 1990s have been coined as the gay 90s by some. Coming out as a gay person became easier and Western societies more sensitive and open to diversity. The back cover of the recent publication by Aurélien Bellanger “Le vingtième siècle” (The 20th century) speaks of the book as “roman polyphonique virtuose”. I look back on the 20th century as “polyphone” in many respects. It would be an illusion to believe we can only keep the nice sounding harmonies without the tensions or dissonances.