I've been wanting to mention a lovely little documentary that is currently available on Amazon Instant Release and Netflix called 'Happy'. In the last decade or so, some psychologists and social scientists have turned their attention to studying happiness, after decades of focusing on what causes depression and mental health issues. There has been a batch of new books that have come out describing the results, and recommendations for how to apply it to your life. This documentary does the same thing, through interviews with researchers and individuals from all around the world that score high in psychological happiness assessments. Most of the recommendations are pretty familiar by now - exercise, meditation, a strong sense of community, a family support network, and meaningful work or activities - but combined with the interviews this still manages to provide some new inspiration and food for thought.

Some of the most interesting sections were profiles of Japan (which is one of the lowest-scoring countries in happiness assessments), Denmark (consistently one of the highest), and Bhutan (which measures 'Gross National Happiness'.) I also liked a scene with middle school students attending an assembly with comedian Michael Pritchard, designed to help students see how compassion contributes to happiness. The Dalai Lama, and researchers that have worked with him on various mindfulness studies, are also featured.

So overall, a sweet film. I watched it with my kids, ages 8 and 6, and it was fine for them too, only one part they closed their eyes on - photos of a woman who had been in a bad car accident. Other than that, I think it's appropriate for families, and even this scene has enough warning that you can have them not watch the pictures if you want.

Lisa Erickson, Buddhism Editor
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