Film: Project Happiness

Directed by John Sorensenproject happiness

What creates lasting happiness? That question is the premise of the film and movement, Project Happiness. Depression is on the rise in America, and 1 in 5 teens has thought about suicide in the last year, the film reports. Worse, 1 in 12 has tried it.

Concerned mom Randy Taran wanted to create more happiness for herself and her family and had the brainstorm to put the task to four naturally curious and emotionally challenged teens, to try to get to the bottom  of the question. They consulted other youth from Nigeria and Tibet (in India), as well as such experts as the Dalai Lama, George Lucas and Buddhist practitioner Richard Gere, along with numerous ordinary people.

Among other questions they explored the difference between pleasure, which is short term; and joy, which is generally long-term and often linked to taking care of others. Children, for example, teach us compassion and unconditional love, and are one of the greatest sources of joy. The Dalai Lama told the teens that, “the main thing is warm-heartedness and trust.”

Actor Richard Gere pointed out the tenet of Buddhism that all sentient creatures move toward happiness and away from suffering, and that suffering is an impediment to our opening our hearts. In the film we watch the American teens open their hearts to their international counterparts, and see their astonishment at discovering their similarities. We don’t get to know the characters well enough to care deeply about them—although Prabha Sharan, product of an Indian orphanage tugs our heartstrings—but it’s impossible not to care about the peace they’re waging.

Nobody can give us the keys to happiness, the teens ultimately realize, but we can choose it for ourselves. Project Happiness continues to offer the happiness curriculum to schools that understand this concept and want to share the tools. The path to world peace and happiness may ultimately lie with the next generation of youth. At least if Project Happiness has anything to say about it. (Beyond Words Publishing)

—Abigail Lewis

Join the international movement to give people of all ages the tools they need to ignite their own happiness!

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