No surprise, the film “Happy”, by Roko Belic, which won the Audience Award at Mountainfilm, explores what makes people happy and what doesn’t. Over the years we’ve become a lot richer, but no happier.
No dry dialog, we get to meet a woman whose face was destroyed after being run over by a truck. A rickshaw driver who lives in India, says that he has a fine life…except for the occasional rain in the shack at monsoon. We meet monks and meditators, a volunteer at Mother Theresa’s home for the dying—he was a miserable banker, now a happy man—and a family that lives in a Dutch cooperative.
And of course we hear from happiness researchers, who work in the area of “positive psychology.”
People in the United States are a lot richer than they were 50 years ago. But we are no happier. People think money buys happiness, but only at a very limited level. A person who goes from $5,000 income per year to $50,000 per year is gains tremendously in happiness. But the jump to $5 million doesn’t.
That’s because we are built with a happiness “set point”. Fifty percent of our happiness quotient is genetic. Ten percent comes from what is happening around us or to us. But the surprise to most people is that we recover very quickly either good or bad events (two exceptions being loss of a spouse or a job).
The woman whose face was mangled? She went through hard times, yes, but is now a happy person, married to someone she met after her accident.
You’re doing the arithmetic, right? Fifty percent genetic, 10 percent current events….leaving us with another forty percent to the happiness equation. Forty percent, that’s what you control.
How to get happier? Exercise, gets you dopamine, the brain’s happy drug. Novel activities. Doing for others. Meditating, appreciating what you have. None of it is rocket science, but it makes for good watching and thinking.
And will put a smile on your face.