Photo A Day #150 Happiness Is...

In the past week I have happened upon two films pertaining to happiness. The first one was Kumaré, a documentary I worked on the promotions for at the TV station. It looked good, and I enjoy documentaries, so I recorded it.

The doco was made by an American man named Vikram, who grew up in New Jersey, his family is of Indian heritage. He notices as he is growing up that the culture he is embarrassed by is being embraced by Americans in the form of Yoga, New Age Religion and other borrowed aspects of Indian culture. Vikram decides after speaking with many gurus in America and India, that they are no more holy or enlightened than anyone else is or can become. He decides that he will become a guru named Kumaré to see if people will believe in him. And of course they do. As a viewer I witnessed his gradual realization that he was capable of being a 'guru' and holding influence over people's lives, as well as being able to help them. Once he comes to this conclusion, he sets out to teach his students that they have the power of the 'guru' inside each of them. It's a pretty touching film, knowing that he is duping these people the entire time (he speaks with an Indian accent and pretends to be from a long line of gurus from India) but helping them as well. Watching him struggle with how to break the news to his followers that he is a sham is pretty uncomfortable. But the lessons that he learns, and in turn teaches his students (and us) are valuable. I really enjoyed Kumaré, you should check it out if you like documentaries :)

Golden sunset and storm rolling in over my house today.

Tonight I watched a film called Happy. It's another documentary, about what makes people happy. There is some focus on the science of happiness, as well as interviews with some of the 'happiest' (Okinawa in Japan) and 'unhappiest' (Tokyo in Japan) people around the world. Can I bore you with some statistics? Apparently 50% of your happiness is determined by genetic disposition. Only 10% is determined by your circumstances (life dramas, job, friends, breakups etc) The other 40% is controlled by your actions, which are in your control. Things that you can do to make yourself happier include acknowledging things in your life for which you have gratitude, doing and learning new things (even changing your routine slightly can help) and helping others. Committing an act of kindness is one of the greatest happy-inducing things you can do. And the effects of that kind of happiness last MUCH longer than the feelings you get when you win a competition or buy some new shoes. Some of the happiest people don't have very much in terms of material possessions, but are surrounded by loving, caring communities who enjoy supporting each other and helping out in times of need. What better excuse to help someone with their luggage, feed a stranger's parking meter or visit a friend or relative who might be lonely.

Completely unrelated to the film, I read something the other day that said bragging about your good deeds voids them. The only way you can feel good about doing something kind is by keeping it to yourself. I think there is some truth in this, as telling everyone around you what nice things you did today perhaps reveals a selfish motive in your good deed and a need to be praised. So do it, and keep a secret, it's more fun that way!

I'm going to start on my happiness mission by telling you what I'm grateful for today - it was mentioned in the film that stating 5 things once a week was beneficial, so here goes:
  • Spending time with my fiance
  • Nico being in crazy kitten pouncing mode today
  • Weekends
  • Going to the gym for the first time in ages (I might not be grateful about that tomorrow!)
  • Trees, clouds and sunsets
What are you grateful for today?