Interview Essay – Peter ClaussPeter Clauss was born March 21, 1935, in what was then, East Germany. Growing up he worked in hotel restaurants; this was where he learned his trade. Instead of attending the regular school system he learned the skills that he would need later on in life in the restaurant. Today Peter enjoys attending the opera, theater, concerts and plays. It is these places where he finds most of his happiness in life.
What is your definition of happiness?”Not to have any worries or as few worries as possible.”
Has your definition changed over the years?”Yes.” “This year I changed a lot, it’s a whole process.”
Who or what do you turn to when you are unhappy?”Music or books, but especially music. Music isn’t for some people, but it is for me. For example, Beethoven and Bach put all this philosophy and emotion in their music.”
What makes you unhappy?”Cruelty towards animals makes me unhappy. And stupidity or stupid attitudes. I try to stay away from that, you know if someone says you’re stupid, I just forget it and walk away.”
How do other people’s attitudes affect your happiness?”It doesn’t affect me because if they are unhappy, then I just stay away from them. When I am going out with my friends and they bring along one of their friends, that is fine, because if their friends are good to them, then they are friends of mine. So other people’s attitudes really don’t affect me.”
How did your childhood influence your sense of happiness?”I grew up in Germany, I know a little bit about the Nazi’s. The war ended in 1945 when I was 10 years old, so I know a little bit, but not much. My mother was an apprentice and was employed by Jews. She always said that they were such wonderful people….
…rmany and their communistic views.”
Are you pleased with yourself?”Oh yes, very. Absolutely couldn’t be better.”
Religion?”I gave up religion. Religion is kind of superstitious; especially if you are young, they kind of corrupt you. God is like a baked potato and every church puts a different topping on it to make it more appealing. But really all it is, is don’t do any bad things like the basics. In religion you are always waiting for something, its like gimme gimme, and then if it doesn’t come, its like, how can you do this to me?”
If you could give a piece of advice for achieving happiness what would it be?”I would say listen to music, because music to me is like religion. If you educate your five senses, then you will have a happy life.”
Peter was a very friendly person. I enjoyed the time I had learning about his life, and I wish him the best.