Happy – A DocuLesson on Happiness

Quiet night at home, and, as it happens, the remote control landed in my hand. Rare occurrence, rare not because of the common war-over-the-remote-control, rare because I’m not a big TV fan and most of the time I have no idea what to watch, thus, in trying to be efficient, we let the man handle the evening viewing selection. This time though I felt on top of things, and went for a title on our DVR list that has been recorded some time in June. “Happy.” Sounded promising. For whatever reason my mind wandered towards an animation movie à la “Happy Feet.”  Once I started playing it, I remembered what we were dealing with (I was the one recording the show after all) – we were on for a social documentary created by Roko Belic, addressing the pursuit of -real- happiness. A favorite subject of mine. :)

Happy - The Mobvie

I absolutely recommend this film. It’s a common practice nowadays to ask yourself, earlier or later in life, am I happy? What can I do to be happy/ier? (As opposed to the 1990s when the predominant quest was for “getting rich fast”… we, as in the human race, seem to have become slightly wiser.) A similar train of thought led Tom Shadyac, a Hollywood filmmaker, to fund the making of this documentary. Belic recounts Shadyac’s epiphany, ”Tom is a very successful Hollywood director – he made tens of millions of dollars and he said when he bought his first mansion he was really excited because he thought, now OK, he’s there, he has achieved the dream that everyone said would make him happy. And he said that he had this overwhelming feeling as he stood in the foyer of his amazingly palatial house that he was no happier.’’1

This feature documentary, through a wonderful mix of scientific data and authoritative experts and individual experiences and emotional stories from across the globe, shows that your happiness is completely under your control and *gasp* has little to do with extrinsic factors. The new shinny car parked in the carport? The new pair of Louboutin stilettos? Your Rolex? They may make you happy for a mere fleeting moment.

Real happiness comes from within (yes, part of it is genetic, but a large part is contoured by our experiences and the way we perceive them). Watch the movie and let yourself be inspired by the stories of a working father who lives in the slums of Kolkota, India, for whom happiness is coming home to his boy who lovingly waits for him every single day at the coffee shop near their tent/house, or the Okinawa, Japan, (near) centenarians who find happiness in dancing and singing with friends, or the tenants of a co-housing residence building in Denmark, whose happiness is nourished by their strong communal relationships.

In short, according to “Happy”, happiness grows when

  1. We express gratitude.
  2. Are compassionate and kind to others.
  3. Surround ourselves with family and friends.
  4. Spend time in nature.
  5. We exercise.

Intrigued enough? Watch the whole movie now.

And after giving it some thought, tell me, when are you the happiest?


For a balance take on tangible/intangible sources of happiness, read this article that proposes that “wealth can give you security and choice, but coveting it can be toxic.”


  1. A. Knight. The Happy Medium. July 2011. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from: http://www.smh.com.au/money/investing/the-happy-medium-20110726-1hxin.html#ixzz3B8mPugDW []

30 comments on “Happy – A DocuLesson on Happiness

  1. I saw this on Netflix and started it but ended up not being able to finish it. I love the impact it had on you, I’ll have to make the effort to watch it again!

  2. I totally agree that I am happier when I exercise and am around nature. I love going for a hike through the greenbelt, it always makes me feel better:)

  3. I am intrigued! I am happiest in between bath time and bed time… when we are all cuddled up in bed and reading books, and then after everyone goes to bed and I get some mommy time!

  4. Have you ever read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin? It’s on the same topic as this movie and chronicles the writer’s life as she tries to make a small change each month that will make her happier. Just like Shadyac, she discovered early on that it isn’t money that makes you happy. I recommend it!

    • I think I have at one point and if I recall right I checked the reviews and there was something that stopped me from ordering the book. I’m gonna add it to my next amazon order. :) Thanks for the recco.

  5. I really hope that this is on Netflix! I think I’ve heard of this before and now I really want to watch it. Sometimes little things like this are all I need to remind myself what happiness is really about.

  6. I’m thhappiest when I’ve done what I needed to do on my to-do list (or even SOME of it) during the day, so I can sit, relax and hang out with my husband that evening. It’s the simple things.

Talk to me