The Happy Movie Review

Another highlight of the 119th American Psychology Convention in Washington, DC was the “Happy” movie. It was full of lessons, cutting edge findings and real life examples. Some things I already knew but to see them again as a confirmation of my knowledge on this topic was very uplifting. There were a lot of quotes from happiness studies and at the same time it was engaging and moving. And yes, I was taking notes, wiping off my tears during the most sad parts and savoring every moment of “Happy”.

Several books on happiness and their authors were mentioned, including Happiness and How to measure it, Flourish, Anatomy of an epidemic, etc.

Current research shows that in our happiness:

50% – genetic, 10% – circumstances, 40% – intentional (you choose)

Variety is a spice of life, so we should try different things, and various things make us happy. For some it is physical activity or being close to nature, for others – spending time with their children or pursuing a hobby. Being engaged in a flow is what makes us happy. Example, fulfilling your creativity need by composing music.

Daniel Gilbert says “you can’t predict happiness”, so you might as well enjoy what you like now instead of chasing what you think might make you happy tomorrow.

The most shocking moment of the movie was a story of a beautiful woman, who got into a car accident and was severely injured, especially her face. Some people spend their lives trying to understand why … “why did it happen to me?”, others say – “I don’t need to understand, I just need to make a choice to move on”.

That woman was able to find courage to continue with her life and take care of her child, even though she lost her husband. She found courage to live, to move on, even though it was not easy, and now she is married again and her husband calls her pretty.

The most important is close support of family and friends, not focus on external (image, status, money), but intrinsic values (personal growth, relationship, community, meaning, change the world).

Speaking of values, a lot of it has to do with cultural background. Japan is the least happy among most developed nations. And it turns out that they cultivate Karōshi (過労死) – work to death or jobs for life or death. So people literary become workaholics to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing. In a culture like that people need to create support for anyone who wants to be happy, they need mass media to avert attention from material success to success of a different kind. Otherwise they compromise happiness of all of their citizens. GDP is not enough, there should be other measures to help understand life and what is really important. If not happiness it could be contentment.

What is the most happy country on Earth? Is it Bhutan that really cares about spirituality, physical exercise, community and human/nature balance? Or is it Denmark with free education and medicine, and popular co-housing communities with shared amenities and values?

In contract to the main island of Japan, one community in Okinawa is a small one. There is something different about it. They have a big number of over 100 year olds. They sleep a lot, farm, drink sake, talk to grandkids, give vegetables to neighbors, communicate with others via dance, music, getting together for tea. In that village they are one family. “When you meet someone for the first time you are already brothers and sisters. We really see with our hearts.” Happiness is having a lot of friends. It is social interaction.

I found another review of this movie and the episode about Benicia middle school is best described here:

“One especially moving section of the film for me was a demonstration of how love and connectedness can replace bullying in a school. Michael Pritchard, an emotional healer and stand-up comic, was shown giving a class on cultivating emotional intelligence to an assembly of middle-school children. He asked students to get up and tell their feelings about being bullied. As a result, there was an immediate and profound transformation from separateness to connectedness in the whole room.” Indeed, we all win together.

One volunteer in India said that fashion is not important to him anymore, sweetness is in helping someone, meaning is in what he does and that it is important for others. Life is precious, when someone cares about you.

We can change our brain and its reaction by education and experiences to learn love. Gratitude journals, acts of kindness, loving kindness meditation… Complete interdependence with each other and nature, laughter, the value of compassion… When we cultivate them – we can change our brain. There is more in life and to life.

It is all about gratitude, compassion, love, altruism and building blocks of happiness. Check it out for yourselves:

At the end of the movie, the formula for happiness was mentioned, simply that every person will find its own. I was really happy to hear that as I’m working exactly on the customized version of the formula so I wanted to talk to the Happy team about it. To my surprise the young man I spoke to was very unenthusiastic and skeptical, he said that too many people approach the team with the same idea, they all claim that they found the right formula and it’s the only one and that they want it to be mentioned in the movie or promoted somehow. The Happy team guy thinks that it is impossible to measure every person’s happiness and do it in one formula correctly…Even though I tried to explain my approach, he quickly dismissed it.

He said if you want to help promote the movie, feel free. I already did it voluntarily by posting a note on my blog and by coming to the Convention just to see the movie as I knew it would be featured. I wish the director Roko Belic was there so that I could talk to him instead. For now, I’m still perfecting my formula for happiness to be ready for the big audience and correctly measure our state of happiness. Yes, we can measure our happiness and increase it. Stay tuned 🙂

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