Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Happy, the Documentary

 What makes people happy? It is what is explored in this documentary by Roko Belic as he goes from the ghettos of Kolkata, India to the swamps of the cajun backwoods of Louisiana. Maybe unsurprisingly, the answer is not money, it is not success, it is not material items. It is living a balanced life, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy natural diet, exercising regularly, and your ability to bounce back from adversity.

The documentary compared a rickshaw driver's overall happiness to the overall happiness of wealthy Americans and found that the rickshaw driver was happier and more satisfied with his life than the wealthy Americans... even though he lived in a shack with a tarp for a roof and didn't have enough food all the time.

The documentary found that after basic needs are met, the happiness rating between someone making $5,000 a year as compared to $50,000 a year was huge; however, the difference between a person making $50,000 and $50 million was not noticeable.

The creators then went to the land of the most 100 year old people per capita to study what they do differently as compared to the rest of the world, Okinawa, Japan. The things that stuck out most to me from Okinawa were: (1) the sense of community. Everyone took care of one another, they encouraged one another, and they were close with their neighbors. The were not isolated from one another and social interaction was a huge part of their daily lives. (2) Everyone got a lot of sleep. (3) Exercise was important. Not traditional Westernized exercise, but gardening daily, daily walks, chasing children around, children running around instead of playing video games, etc. (4) Diet, their diets were relatively natural (i.e vegetable based, meat but not a lot of it, a lot of fruit etc.), and obesity or even overweight people are not the norm. 

This documentary got me thinking about life and my personal quest for happiness. I am a generally happy and optimistic person and I attribute it to my lifestyle. I surround myself with people that I truly enjoy their company and I spend a lot of time with them (I'm hardly ever alone), I eat a healthy and well balanced diet, I exercise regularly, I scare the shit out of myself regularly, and I routinely get 8 hours of sleep a night. I think I need to start volunteering more though, I do not do this enough. I am planning on looking for an organization to volunteer with soon. If anyone has any recommendations, please email me with them.

"I have decided to be happy, because it's good for my health." ~Voltaire

Live long and prosper, my friends.


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