Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  52 minutes
Date:  2006
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Norwegian / English subtitles
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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How Happy Can You Be?

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What is happiness? And how do we get more of it? Visiting leading figures in positive psychology and observing clinical experiments, this is a light-hearted but serious investigation.

How Happy Can You Be?

What are the factors that make a person happy? Does being happy actually improve our life? Can scientists measure one's degree of happiness? Is there an identifiable psychological profile for a happy person? Is it possible to arrange our lives to be as happy as possible? And how, exactly, does one define happiness?

In HOW HAPPY CAN YOU BE?, filmmaker Line Hatland, who admits to not being as happy as she'd like to be, seeks answers to these questions by interviewing and showing the work of some of the world's leading researchers on happiness, or 'objective well being,' including psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists. Among many other things, we learn the three main factors contributing to happiness, including life circumstances, intentional activity (what one chooses to do), and one's genetic makeup.

Filmed throughout the world-including the U.S., Greenland, Europe, and Asia-HOW HAPPY CAN YOU BE? combines the interviews with these leading figures in the positive psychology field with archival footage, scientific experiments, impressive (if not always credible) statistical data from the World Database of Happiness, questionnaires submitted during anthropological field trips, the filmmaker's family history and her bemused reflections on what she learns about the keys to happiness.

Although it may not add up to a scientific guide to happiness, which is the unspoken but primary life goal for most people, HOW HAPPY CAN YOU BE? examines many factors that determine the extent of satisfaction with one's life, and their implications for one's personal well being and social relationships.

'A summary of happiness research, nicely visualized with a good sense of humour... a good start for a discussion about happiness as such.'-Jan Ott, Journal of Happiness Studies

'An entertaining journey into the personality trait-or is it a state-of happiness.'-Science Books and Films

'Blends, with humor and intelligence, the personal impressions of the filmmaker, who questions her own inability to be happy, with very knowledgeable research results.'-Pelerin Magazine

'A lucid, surprising, and, above all, encouraging survey!'-Famille Chrétienne

'Although declaring her own inability to be happy, the director reels off a series of precepts which are both funny and sensible.'-Le Monde

'Amusing... an engaging guide to happiness research... While the tone of the film is light, the questions raised are thoughtful ones that bear further discussion. Recommended.'-Educational Media Reviews Online


** 2006 Eurodok, European Documentary Film Festival
** 2005 Uppsala International Short Film Festival


Main credits

Hatland, Line (film director)

Other credits

Cinematography, Odd Reinhardt Nicolaysen, Erik Edland; editor, Jacob Risdal; music, Hakon Iversen.

Distributor credits

A Film by Line Hatland

Docuseek2 subjects

Psychology and Mental Health
Social Psychology
Cultural Anthropology
Positive Psychology

Distributor subjects

Behavioral Science
Cultural Studies
Health Issues
Life Science
Neuroscience and Neurology


Line Hatland; Psychologists; Psychologist; Anthropologists; Anthropologist; Sociologists; Neuroscientists; Happiness; life circumstances; intentional activity; genetic; positive psychology; World Database of Happiness; Satisfaction; personal well being; social relationships; documentary; film; video; DVD; ; "How Happy Can You Be?"; Icarus Films;

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