What I learned from the Documentary, “Happy”

I’ve been looking forward to watching this since I first heard about it a few months ago. Written and directed by Roko Belic and released in 2011, Happy, examines the traits of the happiest, and least happy, cultures in the world. Here are some of the most informative and inspirational pieces of advice that I took from this movie:

1. Change is good: For those of us looking to add more happy to our lives, Belic’s film suggests that we welcome challenges, new experiences, and opportunities to problem solve. While fear of change is obviously a very common feeling, shaking off that fear and changing our routines can do us a lot of good!

2. Connect with nature: When the film crew visits a Louisiana swamp, they meet an incredibly happy crab fisherman named Roy Blanchard. With a huge smile, he describes the feelings of joy that the beautiful birds and peaceful swamp sounds bring him each day.


3. Exercise: I don’t think any of us need to watch a documentary to understand the many benefits of a good work out. Of course, exercising frequently can increase our energy levels, help control our weight, and put us in an overall happy mood. The positive post exercise state of mind is a result of the brain’s release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to motivation and commonly thought of as a “feel good” chemical (I know next to nothing about how the brain and its chemicals work…click here for a better understanding of dopamine).

4. Get into Flow: As I understand it, flow state is that feeling of being “in the zone”; while engaged in creative or physicals activities, we can sometimes find ourselves completely focused on the task at hand, not letting any thoughts or distractions impede our progress. Routinely letting go and giving yourself completely to something meaningful can increase feelings of happiness.  Click the link above or watch the video below to learn more about it!


5. Take advantage of your support system: One of my favourite parts of this movie is its look at the people of Okinawa. This Japanese island’s population includes a large number of individuals over the age of 100. This is thought to be, in large part, due to the strong sense of community enjoyed by Okinawans. The film contains several heartwarming scenes of the elderly socializing, singing, and playing with everyone from fellow seniors to very small children. Read a previous post I wrote for a little more info about the many ways a strong community can benefit people.

6. Be Grateful: I hear and read so much these days about the importance of practicing gratitude, so I probably don’t need to explain too much here. However, I would like to share an incredible story from the movie about a woman named Melissa Moody. Melissa is a former beauty queen who was disfigured in a truck accident, an ordeal that left her feeling suicidal. She explains that while struggling to deal with the loss of her once perfect face she had to make a strong effort to focus on the good around her, rather than what had been taken from her. It inspired me to hear her speak with calm and grace about what happened and how she worked at practicing gratitude to bring happiness back into her life.


7. Serve others: Amongst many inspirational stories in this film is the one of Andy Wimmer, a banker turned volunteer, who spends his days in India working at a Home for the Dying and Destitute. He describes the positive changes he experienced when his focus shifted from material possessions to caring for people in need.  Watch as he explains how he came to his life changing decision below:

8. Meditate: This is another one that I hear so much about but that I definitely need to practice more! Happy suggests that when we sit down to try and find some stillness, we should set an intention such as compassion.

I am so glad that my baby happily played long enough for me to enjoy this movie.  It brightened my day and taught me some things I didn’t know. Check it out on Netflix!

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