A Review of the Movie "Happy"
Last night I watched the movie "Happy." Filmmaker Roko Belic traveled to more than a dozen countries, searching for the meaning of happiness. Marci Shimoff, author of Happy For No Reason, narrated as people from all over the world are interviewed about being happy. Following are some of the highlights.
Genes, Life Circumstance, or Intention
From a study of identical twins, they found that 50% of our happiness level is determined by our genes. They also found that only 10% of our happiness comes from our life circumstances, such as our job, health, home, social status, etc. That leaves 40% of our happiness up to each of us with intentional activity and actions we choose to do each day. They determined that variety is truly "the spice of life" and happier people stay active and try new things on a regular basis.
Our bodies create a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This chemical is needed to feel pleasure and happiness. We tend to lose dopamine with age and severe loss can lead to Parkinson disease. Being active and adventurous creates dopamine and makes us feel happier. Regular physical activity and other activities that require us to "be in the zone" such as dancing, music, singing, and SoulCollage® leads to experiencing more happiness than others who don't participate in such activities.
In the movie, they interviewed several authors, professors, and other experts in the field of Positive Psychology who shared their wisdom and insights, including Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the book Flow and Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness. Some of the insights they shared may surprise you.
All Adversity Isn't Bad
They explained that most people have an assumption that "all adversity is bad," but that is a false belief, according to the research. In fact, a key ingredient to happiness is the ability to recover from adversity quickly. "Bad" things are going to happen from time to time but how you deal with adversity and bounce back are key factors in determining your happiness.
Intrinsic v. Extrinsic Goals
Another concept the movie introduced is the idea of extrinsic and intrinsic goals. They suggested that people who focus on external goals are less happy than those people who focus on internal goals and needs including personal growth and a desire to help others. This concept will be discussed further in a future post.
All Work and No Play (and rest) CAN Kill You
The movie took us to Japan, not the happiest place on earth. I was surprised to learn that there is a phenomenon called Karoshi, which means working yourself to death. According to BusinessInsider.com, "Japan's karoshi concept can be traced back to the aftermath of World War II." Young people in their 30's are dying or committing suicide from overwork, lack of sleep and exhaustion.
We then traveled to the country of Bhutan, located in the Eastern Himalayas. As a country, they have adopted a philosophy known as "Gross National Happiness (GNH)." It includes an index which is used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of the population. In 2008 they set the goal of the government of Bhutan to focus on happiness. Can you imagine what life would be like if our own countries adopted the same philosophy?
The Happiest Place on Earth
The movie then took us to Denmark, known as one of the "happiest places on earth. In fact, the new World Happiness Report was recently published and for the seventh year ranks Denmark among the top three happiest of 155 countries surveyed. According to the movie, some of the reasons the people of Denmark are so happy is that Denmark promotes social equality and provide free education through college as well as free health care for life.
The movie concluded by saying that "we all need something bigger than ourselves to care about" in order to happy. Being a part of a community, being social, being of service to others, and participating in structured religion or spiritual practices can be beneficial to our emotional state and make us more happy.
Happy people function better, are more productive, are healthier and live longer lives. That's what this blog and my mission is all about. Discussing ways to find more happiness and joy in our everyday lives and journey on this planet. I'm glad you are here and hope you come back often to see what insights I have to share about being happy. I encourage you to check out the movie (I found it on Netflix). I've included the trailer below.