16 December 2023


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time

2:30, 1 interval


From €59

The Art of Life

The paradox of happiness

Please note: the presentations and debate will be in Dutch

It is one of the strangest issues of our time: we are happier, and at the same time, unhappier than ever. This paradox calls for a new way of thinking, for new insights. In The Art of Life, favourite Flemish speakers Ann Demeester, Damiaan Denys and Dirk De Wachter take us on a diagnosis of our society, to recipes for greater fulfilment and happiness in life and new inspiration from the beauty of the arts.

The paradox of happiness

With three presentations and a lively debate, together we will create a new picture of our own place in the world and dealings with others, inspiring each other to live with more depth, meaning and connection in the dark days.

  • Gain insight into the deepening power of psychology and philosophy
  • Discover how art helps us with self-insight, empathy and happiness in life
  • Delve into the effects of a turbulent world on our mental health
  • Learn about the paradox of our happiness
  • Discover the power of connection, genuine contact and caring for each other
  • Learn to ask better questions



This programme at Dutch National Opera is a follow-up to the unforgettable debate that took place just before corona broke out. In a packed auditorium then, in December 2019, we listened to three mental health experts. At the time, Dirk De Wachter, Paul Verhaeghe and Damiaan Denys took us to the causes of uneasiness about our way of living together. One speaker argued that it would take a war or a serious disaster to improve our mental health. He could not have foreseen what would happen next ...

Where are we today? What is the impact of today's conflicts, climate disasters and aftermath of a global health crisis? The world has changed so unimaginably fast in recent years that we crave reflection, interpretation and calm in our minds. And we need new ways of looking and thinking for inspiration and ideas. We therefore once again invited three favourite Flemish speakers to join us in a new analysis of where we stand.

Practical information

  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Time: 13:00 - 15:30
  • Location: National Opera & Ballet
  • Language: Dutch (!)


  • 1st Price Category ticket: € 75,-
  • Regular ticket: € 59

The 1st Price Category ticket allows you to take a seat in one of the best places in the auditorium. We do not work with seat numbers, so on the day itself you choose where to sit on the rows reserved for first-grade tickets.