Happiness in the Perspective of Roko Belic

The true meaning and source of happiness can often be difficult to find, however, Roko Belic makes an attempt in his documentary The Happy Movie, to show the meaning of happiness from different perspectives whilst traveling to a few countries and communicating with everyday people. Some of the different people such as doctors, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals live in different world situations. Belic’s point, succulently put, is that happiness is composed of a few things such as circumstances (10%), Genetics, (50%), and your intentional activity (40%). For many people, this last section of intentional activity can mean very different things, from whether you are living in a third world part of India with a minimalistic lifestyle and enjoying coming home to your son after a day of work, or a businessman in Japan who puts work above everything else including his wife’s birthday. Overall, Belic uses both ethos and logos to persuade viewers that happiness can be created by doing certain things directed from doctors and psychiatrists with Ph.D.’s.

Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter, in his ‘The Happy Film’: Film Review indicated The Happy Movie will not make you happy, or provide any happiness, but rather gives a small definition as to what has brought happiness to a small crowd. Although some readers may object that the author has created a successful movie and attempted to get points of view from many different people, Scheck provides us with information in further detail about the director, Stephan Sagmeister, and how he has trouble finding happiness himself. Sagmeister has had minimal success in being happy, as both meditation and therapy have not helped him. The only method to make him happy seem to be drugs in the form of anti-depressants. I believe, that while this script is mostly informative, Belic does attempt to make an argument that happiness can be created and modified depending on whether we help others, set good goals, find love, and remove stress. This creates conflicts with the movie where we can see people, who have had a very stressful lifestyle, become happy. We also see those who are not happy with their lives or themselves while still having the same values Belic believes will bring happiness.

Belic shifts from many different perspectives of people from both scientists and real-life experiences to give contrast as well as help strengthen his point. To help strengthen that point, he uses ethos in the form of getting reviews from authors, and doctors from universities that are commonly known. Belic uses logos when he includes points from many different people about what brings them happiness and how that affects either the American dream or their dream. The biggest thing that is at risk when he is creating this film is making us assume Belic has a good foundation in the study of happiness. Whether it be from life changing experiences, or extensive research, we can quickly find that he is not quite as happy as he appears, and that he has lived a very rich and lush lifestyle. This can lead to doubt in his statements about happiness being an easy thing to achieve. Author Monique Minihan in their review Must-See: A Review of the Movie Happy, states in short, the movie is for anyone and everyone and “It brings full circle a wealth of scientific, empirical, and national research on happiness and delivers it in a documentary-type format so mesmerizing you'll be recommending it to friends and family before you get halfway through.” I really liked that this review incorporated the cover of The Happy Movie where it says “happy” and has a smiley face below the text and makes the connection to everybody who is either happy or wants to be happy. Minihan, like Scheck, believes that this movie does not show you what to do in order to be happy or provide happiness itself, but rather it provides a good stepping stone in the direction of happiness through lessons of exercise, psychology, and human interaction. While Minihan believes that “All of this information in one place is invaluable” I believe that the information that has been provided in the happy movie is persuaded toward the authors point of view. All of the people interviewed in The Happy Movie are finally happy if they were past a traumatic experience, or if they were living an everyday lifestyle, but the Belic did not interview people that were depressed or upset and provide us with any information as to whether or not the things that he mentioned made many people happy had any effect on them. Perhaps it is because the movie is too short as Jeffery Peterson from The Deseret News states in his summary, ‘Happy’ documentary argues that everyone can become happier, but I do not think that time was as much of a constraint as possible conflict and difference of opinion was. Peterson did, however, mention a rather interesting word “karoushi”, as mentioned in the film. That means dying from overwork and its correlation between a person’s health and their overall happiness. Since some people that are working so hard do not have time to exercise or relax, they commonly do not get the release of negative emotions causing them to be unhappy. 

Overall, Belic does a good job in persuading viewers that happiness is a state of mind that can be achieved if you are able to make some accommodations in your life. Through the first hand experiences from people like the Indian rickshaw driver and Ronaldo, the surfer, where they show what happiness means to them and how simple it can be, to medical professionals that give statistics on what makes the human brain happy through chemicals like dopamine and that must be kept or will be gone forever. And Belic’s final takeaway from his documentary is that the more you work on being happy, whether it is doing something you love, or having a loving and giving life, the happier you will become.