Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

Which is the Happiest?

Which is the Happiest?Which is the Happiest?

There was once a rose-bush. The sunshine said the roses were her children because she shown on them. The dew said the roses were her children because she nourished them with her tears. The rose-bush said they were her children because she grew them. The question they posed was– which one was the happiest? Surely one of the roses would be happier above the others and one would be least happy.

The roses bloomed and each went to different places. One rose was plucked by a woman who had lost her daughter. The rose was put with the poor girl in death. It thought it was the happiest. Another rose went home with an old woman to be preserved. Was it the happiest? What about the rose that was paid attention to by two men? Or the rose that was immortalized on canvas? Or the rose that was tied in a bouquet? That rose, after being thrown in a bouquet, was taken home and placed beside a man’s grandmother where she thoroughly enjoyed it. It was deemed the happiest rose of all, but each rose had thought it was the happiest. The dew, the sunshine and the rose-bush still argued about who was the mother of the roses.


It’s another story about roses and there isn’t much to observe about it. I guess this just goes to show that people have been fascinated by this particular flower for a very long time.


“Happiest” is just a word here. We could substitute any number of words in this story. Which rose was the saddest? Which rose liked sunshine the most? Which rose was the giddiest? Which rose was this? Which rose was that? The story is not entirely about the concept of being happy. We all have happiness in our lives, just as each of the roses did, but we also all have other things in our lives. We all have sadness and we all have anger and we all have despair and we all have elation. Just because one of us may experience one of those emotions on a more regular schedule than other, does not mean that the person is better than the rest of us. Our experiences are our own and each of us has a life. Each life is special and, at the end, our life is special to us and we wouldn’t have wanted to experience another person’s life. So we are each the happiest or the saddest or the giddiest to ourselves, and someone else’s opinion doesn’t change how we feel.

Of course, some omniscient presence could be keeping track of all our good and bad moments, but is that going to change how we felt about the whole thing if one person laughed ten times more than you did? It doesn’t matter. Your life is your life and it’s the best one for you.


Can we talk about a different flower?

Weigh In

Was one rose really happier than any of the others?

Does it matter if one rose is happier?


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