Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

Strong women (2 movies)

December 30, 2008

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4monthslrg1The impact (on me) of these 2 movies about women with forceful personalities was huge. I just happened to see them back-to-back and feel compelled to write this note. The first movie is Happy-Go-Lucky, and the main character, Poppy, is a very determined young woman who insists on a “glass-half-full” approach to life and people. The second movie is 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, and its main character, Gabita, is also determined — not to accentuate the positive, but to assert her honest and powerful sense of self in a harsh world (1987 Romania).  Both characters border on being irritating at times, yet I came away admiring them. You may not agree with the choices Poppy makes; and you surely won’t agree with some of Gabita’s decisions.  But you will not soon forget either one.  Warning: while the first movie is a pleasure to watch, the second is very disturbing (it graphically shows an illegal abortion, and many of the scenes will make you extremely uncomfortable).

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Spreading happiness

December 19, 2008

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Arthur, a friend who lives in D.C., has a blog, which I enjoy a lot.  This is what he says about spreading happiness, which I am putting here as my official Holiday Message:

Recent studies have apparently shown that happiness is more contagious than sadness. The Washington Post this morning [Dec 5] had a box that showed the likelihood that the happiness of someone in your circle would lead to an increase in your own happiness.

Now, I know this sounds weird, but it said that if your neighbor is happy, you have a 34% chance of having your own happiness increased, but that if your spouse is happy, your chance of increasing your own happiness is only 8%.

So, I have been going about this all wrong. I am going to start concentrating on my neighbors (I assume that means the neighbors in the abutting houses; otherwise, it would be exhausting.). I am going to cut their lawns, bring them dinner, take out their garbage, wash their cars, buy their groceries, and pay their taxes.

This will make them the happiest people around, which will in turn make me happier, and my being happy will make them …  even happier.

Of course, my neighbors are my wife’s neighbors, so she will become happier as well without any effort required on her part. Frankly, though, this is, I guess, of no concern to me, because whether she is happy or not will have no effect on me.

On the other hand, the article did not say what would happen if your spouse, or your neighbor, was sad, not happy. Perhaps, this is the converse (obverse?) – my guess is that my neighbors’ unhappiness would have little effect on my mood. But if my spouse was unhappy……….

In that case, I better hope for very, very happy neighbors.

Life and death in the movies

May 23, 2008

I watched 3 movies in the past few weeks which deal with the essence of living and dying. The first was “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” based on the autobiography of Jean-Dominique Bauby who was completely paralyzed from a stroke but survived long enough to write a book by blinking one eye. The movie certainly confronts the viewer with questions about the meaning of life. To me, it emphasized the importance of communication and creativity. It also showed how important compassion can be. The second movie was “The Savages,” a work of fiction about a family (mainly a brother and sister) dealing with the declilne and death of their father, who was not a very positive force in their lives. To me, this movie also explored the meaning of life and the relevance of compassion.

Finally, I watched “Into the Wild,” based on the true story of a young man who leaves his parents and sister to strike out on his own, without money or attachments. I felt I was confronting the very essence of what it means to be alive and was, once again, impressed with the compassion shown by various individuals. I recommend all 3 of these movies.

I believe that, in order to fully live life and find some measure of happiness and emotional well being, one must in some way confront the inevitability and finality of death, including one’s own mortality. Hopefully, by so doing, one learns the importance of caring for oneself and others and also learns to give and receive compassion.