The Happy Film (2016) Movie Script

- So, these are getting
Blown up a little bit tighter
Than my comfort level
is really into.
- Now that all the big
balloons are inflated,
We're moving into the
small party balloons now
To make chains.
- and
everyone's gonna focus on that.
So this team's working now.
- We fixed it.
We fixed the problem.
We're gonna get liftoff.
- Okay, you're good.
Yeah, we're gonna go out
with three at a time.
it's like the biggest game
of operation and...
- I have no idea
how to start this film.
But I actually do have
The end all figured out.
I'm going to attach 6,000
yellow balloons to myself.
And then I'm gonna take
off against the blue sky.
The yellow contrasting brightly,
And that's just gonna be it.
Jubilation music, probably
Something sigur ros like.
That's actually my
girlfriend veza up there.
I, myself, turned out to be
Too fat for takeoff,
Or, like I prefer to believe,
The balloon gas contracted
In the freezing cold
And threw all of our
Math into disarray.
- Get everybody else back.
- okay,
I need everybody out...
Are you okay, veza?
- I love it.
- okay, one more time.
- well, this is
actually what really happened.
Me not flying in the blue sky
Makes a little bit
more sense after all.
- it would be great
if you could
Go more for height.
You're not jumping
particularly high.
You're just kind of
moving horizontally.
- we need to take
this position again.
- It's like, how can
we not get this shot
With someone in the air?
- stefan's gonna
come out of the rig.
- no.
- okay,
I'm the director here,
I'm gonna make a decision.
- one thing
is that harness
Isn't built professionally.
It is not meant for that.
- well then
I go in this one.
And it's going to be dark
by the time we get him off.
Hang on, hang on, hang on,
Exactly what you
shouldn't be doing
Under the pressure, under
the time constraints,
And the sunset.
You should definitely
not be trying to rig
Someone else into the harness.
- this is
a film about me
Trying to make myself happier.
- this is exactly the
shit that I'm talking about.
a number of years earlier,
I was on sabbatical in bali.
My best friend visited
from new york,
And was checking how I
was spending my time.
I was pretty much
making furniture,
And he looked at
all of it and said,
that's good enough
But somehow,
if you come back after a year
With these couple of
chairs and these ideas,
I'm not quite sure if
that's all that worthwhile.
Well, this is really
when the whole idea
For the happy film came up.
I had given a talk on design
and happiness many times,
And I'd always received
really good feedback and
It just seemed like a juicy
Design problem itself,
to make a proper
Project out of it.
And it would force me to
Research the subject properly.
After talking to many
psychologists, I wrote a script.
And I made a list and a plan.
I love making a plan.
It got big.
Anything, fitted in there.
It turned out that making
a film about happiness
Was somehow like
making a film about life.
Too big, just impossible.
I narrowed it down to
My own happiness instead.
After all, on my own happiness,
I really am the world's
number one expert.
The big question really is
Can I train my mind
in the same way
That I can train my body?
And by far, the best book I read
Was this one by jonathan haidt.
So I called him up
And he agreed
to be the scientific
Adviser for this film.
- So, there are three really
Well validated techniques
For changing
your habitual thinking.
The first technique
is meditation.
You concentrate
and you learn to let go
Of thoughts
that make you less happy.
Buddha said something like,
A man must train his mind
Like an elephant tamer
Tames an elephant.
The second technique
is cognitive therapy.
It's a lot easier
than meditation.
People have much higher
success rates.
You catch
your distorted thinking
And you learn to correct it.
The third technique is drugs.
Like lexapro and prozac.
They really do change
the way you think.
And they change your
habitual thought patterns.
- I'm going
to try them all out
For three months each.
So I should be done
in 12 months.
I'm going to measure
my happiness daily
On a scale from one to 10.
I'll double-check that here
and there with an mri scan.
I'll do an eeg.
I'll keep track of
my behavior every week.
And I'll tape a video diary.
And I know little about
how to make a film.
So I'll ask my friend hillman
for help.
And like a proper
graphic designer,
Before I did any of that,
Before shooting anything,
I started with
the title sequence.
It is now may 2009.
And I would say that my
overall level of well-being is,
Right now, maybe like a six.
But I've already come up from
Maybe, like three.
I would say
Two or three weeks ago.
I clearly did
lose a lot of weight.
Most of my trousers
Don't really fit anymore.
I mean, you see,
Even this one is...
Fairly loose
To say the least.
Or I can, well, it's also
an advantage, I guess.
I can dress and redress so
Much quicker in the morning.
Altogether, I just broke off a
Long, long relationship
With my now-ex girlfriend.
We went out for 11 years.
And I'm clearly a little
bit swimming right now.
For sure, the last two months,
Even though
I try to be very active.
My normal mode of
Getting rid of problems
is just to work more.
So I did quite a bit of work.
Kept... Tried to keep myself
Very, very busy.
- Yeah, huge fan
of your guys's work,
I follow you all the time.
- we used to
design a lot of cd covers.
I wanted to
combine my two loves,
Design and music.
Then it turned out that
designing the 28th cover
Wasn't as much fun
as designing the 1st.
- Look at this cd, look
at how cool that thing is.
How slick is that?
Very, very cool.
- and then I
was just trying to see
If I could apply this language
That I know how to speak,
Graphic design,
To something that was
Actually much more personal.
And I found
this little list in my diary
Of things I've learned
In my life so far.
So I chose some of them.
Designed them as well
as I absolutely could.
So, there is trying to look good
Limits my life.
Everything I do
Always comes back
To me.
Keeping a diary
Even though
my initial feeling was
That it's fairly self-indulgent,
The reaction of the
audience was fantastic.
It became this thing that's
still very graphic design,
But a much more
personal expression.
Look, somebody
is in a good mood.
- I'm so excited.
- Excellent.
The reason I wanted
to work with jonathan
Is because he deals
with the whole life,
Not just some small,
specialist stuff.
And at the same time,
he's a true scientist.
Everything he says
is backed up by proper
Authoritative research.
- The view that
I came to in writing the
Happiness hypothesis I
didn't have this view
When I started writing,
but by the end of the book,
I came to the conclusion
that happiness doesn't come
From getting what you want.
Well that, everybody knows.
It doesn't come from within.
I mean, that's
what the buddhists
And the stoics
have always told us.
From within, so, you
know, change yourself,
Find happiness within.
There's some truth to that,
But I think
the more correct way
To think about human happiness
Is that happiness comes
from getting the right
Kind of relationships.
Between yourself and others,
And yourself and something
larger than yourself.
Try to almost see yourself
As though you were,
You know, a child or an animal
That you were trying
to change or shape.
And what experiences
Can you give it
that would end up just
Making it automatically
and habitually act
In a different way.
- To make your mind
become strong,
You need exercise.
The exercise of the mind, this
Is what we call meditation.
- the schedule
says wake up at 4:30
And then a full program
All the way 'til 9:15 pm.
Meditation, break,
meditation, break.
Break, meditation, meditation
With strong determination,
Meaning you're not
allowed to move,
Break, lecture,
break, meditation.
At 6:00 in the morning, already
My back hurts like hell.
And at 8:00,
oh, my god,
The pain is totally nuts.
- This is the way
to get happier.
May all beings
be happy.
May all beings
be happy.
May all beings
be happy.
Meditation, stop.
One, two, three, four.
- but the only pleasure
That I experience now
Comes from the time
When the pain goes away.
- one by one,
When you're calm.
may all beings
Be happy.
five, six, seven, eight.
- I'm surrounded by
a surprisingly mixed group.
A bunch of jakarta housewives,
A fancy hippie.
An aging surfer dude.
An architect, designer type.
And various women between
the age of 25 and 45
At various degrees
of being lost.
Everybody looks
zombie-like and dour.
If I'm supposed
to get happy here,
Current company does not
Suggest a successful outcome.
good morning, everybody.
We're going
to continue our practice
To make our
harmonious mind appear.
- crazy pain,
All night long.
I'm totally ready to give up.
seven, eight, nine, ten.
One, two, three, four, five.
just ran into an
old student of mine and
She's joining me and her
friend for dinner later on.
So... Lovely.
Well after failing for awhile,
I am now opening
Up to new things.
It does feel like lots
Of stuff is possible.
And I think even
tanya is impressed.
I'm bored.
Sunday and I'm bored.
I was reading all afternoon
And I will do a little bit
of work now,
Because I don't know, really,
What else I should do.
My mom, whom I loved dearly,
Died this year.
She used to work
in a store all her life,
And going up to people,
Making that first step
really became easy
As she got totally used to it.
I, myself, could still get
much, much better at that.
This, this line and this
line, same distance?
"t" here.
I'm extremely anxious
about this dance piece.
Choreographing dancers
Is fairly far away
From straightforward
graphic design.
The "e" moves back.
It's always the same.
If I've done it before,
I get bored.
If I haven't done it
before, I get anxious.
A couple of years ago,
hillman had made a
Short portrait of me.
And I immediately thought,
I could be friends
with this guy.
- So, I would choose the
letters where it made sense.
Do you know what I mean?
- yeah.
Unlike me, he's calm and gentle.
We make a good team.
M, yes!
A, yes!
K, yes!
E, no!
What a crazy weekend.
I spent it with tanya in
A hotel down south
in alila uluwatu.
And I mean, of course, yeah,
It can't be much better.
What a lovely, lovely, lovely,
Lovely, lovely girl she is.
Sadly, she doesn't
want to be filmed.
She thinks I share too much
Private stuff with everybody.
I think I'm falling for her.
Yeah, I think
I'm falling in love.
Just coming back from an
incredible weekend with tanya.
I'm really in love,
and I told her so.
I'd say that if she
would leave me now,
Then I'd definitely
have that broken heart
That jonathan haidt thought
Would be good for the film.
There was a meditation
on love and kindness.
And I meditated on
The fact that I'm gonna die.
And I think I really
Don't wanna
just dedicate the next
20 years of my life
also to design,
As I've basically been doing.
Yeah, I definitely
had an insight.
The insight is that
I really want kids.
It's a big deal.
That would be for me, my god...
It's a big deal.
And I'll see how
tanya feels about this.
I'm in hong kong.
And things are amazing.
Of course,
now that I'm not looking
For a girl,
They are all over me.
Maybe like the most ever.
There was this
pretty blonde girl
Who in a second, sat on my lap.
And just to make sure
That I actually
heard her correctly,
I said, did you
just offer me a trial run
To sleep with you?
And she said,
Well, I might have,
You have to seduce me
a little bit before.
And it took, as it was,
Quite some self-discipline
not to.
I do think
I could be a good dad.
And on the other hand,
If I would have a
Family just for the thrill.
Oh, my god, that would be awful.
I'm not sure
if she's pissed at me.
Who knows?
It for sure would be
understandable considering
That the child issue surely
is a deal-breaker for her.
I think that's more my problem
Than it is a reflection of
The true situation with tanya.
But it's constantly like,
Oh, we are so different.
Oh, she is so irrational.
Oh, we have a
difference of common sense.
In a very, very difficult
situation with her,
Because I couldn't count
on her acting rationally.
And it's difficult to get
These thoughts out of my brain.
I mean, we are
a month into it basically.
And there is already
Serious strife.
I'm basically
Out of my depth.
She cried.
I'm just really sad.
- it is intimacy
with the ordinary conditions
Of life that allow meditation
To arise naturally,
And then you find yourself
in meditation.
and not while I'm sitting
In my meditation hut
Trying, sitting still.
- yeah, well,
there's the word trying.
The trying is the problem.
'cause you're trying
to get somewhere
As if you're not somewhere.
- I actually
found a repeatable way
To manufacture a happy moment.
I think I know how I feel
cause I-
I only play for real
you should be picking me up
instead you're
dragging me down
you're flying over my head
you're landing all over town
you should be picking me up
instead you're
dragging me down
- what is it
that leads to a change
In the way that you
engage with people?
From last time we spoke,
It was clear to me
that your issue
Isn't happiness per say.
And that issues were
Really much more
about connection
With other people,
and some of the
Warm, loving skills.
There's actually
one other element here
That we should bring
In, is the fact
that you were living
In a foreign country.
It sounds like we have
Not just the meditation,
But we have being
in a new place.
- In a place in which
you don't know people,
So you're forced
to be more open.
In a place that
the pace of life of which
Is much, much slower
than in new york.
And in a place which is
physically very beautiful,
And in a very green,
natural way.
So all of these things
are adding up
To sort of suppress the sort of,
The time pressure,
You know, task-focused
stefan sagmeister.
And bring out to the greatest
Extent that you're capable
Of the more warm, loving
and open stefan sagmeister.
So it's going to be very
difficult for us to figure out
Whether the meditation
played any role whatsoever.
What we're seeing here is
that you're really high
In a trait called systemizing.
And systemizing is the ability
And skill of seeing things
as systems
Which can be graphed
and manipulated.
And systemizing is at
least slightly correlated
Negatively with empathizing.
And so this is
a systemizer's attempt
To make himself
more empathizing.
- so, jonathan
talks in his book
About this metaphor for
and the conscious minds.
The conscious mind being
the tiny little rider
On the giant elephant,
the unconscious.
And the rider thinks that
he can tell the elephant
What to do and where to go.
But the elephant, of course,
Has his own sort of ideas.
And it's quite strange
That even though we think
That we make
our decisions rationally,
If you look at
a guy called george.
He doesn't quite know
where to move to,
Somehow georgia
sounds best for george.
And if you have
a guy called dennis,
He doesn't know if he wants to
Become a doctor or a teacher,
Somehow dentist
sounds best to dennis.
And paula,
unsure to marry jack or paul.
Paul it is for paula.
And that's the strange thing.
We think we make
these decisions,
But you have data in the us
That there are more georges
Who live in georgia,
There are more dennises
Who become dentists,
And there are more paulas
That are married to pauls
Than would be
statistically viable.
Now, when I first saw that
data I thought, you know,
These stupid americans.
Ah, they really don't know
what they're doing.
Somehow they are, you know,
Led around by their elephant.
Then I looked at my own family.
That's my mom karolina
marrying my dad karl.
My grandmother josephine
marrying my granddad josef.
So, I'm still looking
for that stefanie.
So, yeah, what I normally
do on Monday mornings
Is this weekly rating thing.
I've been doing it
for years and years.
It's basically 12 things that
I'm gonna change about myself.
So, one, I've been really,
really good.
Five, I've been really,
really bad.
First one, don't drink alcohol,
was one.
That I'm gutsy once a week.
Last week,
I don't think I was very gutsy,
But I'll have to go back
and check.
Okay, there was this
guggenheim gala
Where I did go up
to some people.
Not all that successful,
But at least I did.
Helping somebody, I was
actually good last week.
Do something with my friends,
also a two.
Flexible, I don't think
I was all that flexible.
So that gets, so that will be a
One, a two, five.
26 divided by 12.
2.1, okay, so that's
not too bad.
Yeah, I think
that's pretty good.
Oh, and then one
that I left out here
Because I was too
embarrassed about it
Was that I wouldn't
date any girls
That are more than 20
years younger than I am.
In weeks when
I was good at these things,
When I got good marks, it's
Always been a happy week.
And then I got bad marks,
It's been an unhappy week.
Jonathan introduced me
To some very high end
cognitive therapists.
I met up with them,
And hated them all.
Then a friend introduced me
to sheenah.
I liked her.
- How are you?
- - I'm good.
- I, myself, have never been in therapy before.
- Right.
- I'm not sure if I'm a
Particularly fantastic candidate
For therapy, considering that
For a big part of my life
I've been fairly happy.
When I first met sheenah
I asked her,
Is it reasonable to expect
Some change after three months?
And she said, well, if you
just talk and do nothing,
Probably not.
If you do the homework and
train yourself in that,
It probably will work.
My memories of my childhood
are incredibly happy.
My parents had
an unbelievable marriage.
I don't remember a single fight
Or even bad feelings in the air.
- oh, look at that.
That's a beautiful picture
of you and her.
Now, you come from a very
close, loving family.
- Mm-hm.
- There's not much
history of conflict.
There wasn't much model for it
growing up.
- here's something
that I was thinking about,
Is that you're 49 and
you've never married.
- And I've found that all
single people who say to me,
I can't understand why I
really don't have a family,
Why is this?
All of them tend
to be passive pleasers.
Because you tend
to avoid conflict.
- yes, I think that accurate.
- Right.
- So what would you say
would be a remedy for that?
- I believe in dealing with
conflict well and elegantly.
And respectfully.
It would be good practice
for you to do that.
- even before
I saw sheenah,
I've been trying to get
Better with everyday things.
Things I'm almost embarrassed
That I need to talk about them.
Things like if I want
a coffee on the street
And I see somebody
with a coffee,
Just ask that person,
Where did you get it,
Rather than finding it myself.
Or telling a taxi driver
to turn the radio down
If it bothers me.
You know, I've been
known to sit in a taxi
And just endure it.
That's perfect, thanks.
Do you have any idea
of other homework
That I could do?
- I think we should pick things
that you would avoid doing.
What kind of things
do you avoid doing?
Cause I do believe
in seeking discomfort
As a great way
to grow confidence.
- Hi, sorry for interrupting,
But you just look fantastic.
I love your outfit,
You just look great.
That's some serious amount of
Apples that you have there.
- So I'm gonna do things
That I normally never do.
And some, probably
the most difficult one
Is going to be to get a
phone number of a girl.
Which is just
gonna be terrifying,
Because I never
do that on the street.
I just never do.
So just thinking about it
Now and talking about it,
Yeah, makes me queasy
To say the least.
Wow, I love that bag.
Excuse me, I love that bag.
I'm not getting very
far with my compliments.
- People are so used to
being approached here.
- Do you ever approach
people on the street?
- No.
- Me neither.
- I never do.
- Yeah, no, no, me neither.
- This blonde?
You want to try?
- Not really.
She looks mean.
- Yeah.
- Can I give you a flower?
- oh, it's--
- no, but look, look,
It matches perfectly.
- Thanks a lot, thanks a lot.
- Yeah? Thank you.
I'm sorry, I see you're texting
But I just have to comment
on your jacket.
That is just the nicest jacket.
You absolutely look fantastic.
Yeah, yeah.
- Oh, well, thank you.
I would love to get
together for a cup of coffee
At one time.
- Look, and I have
a flower for you.
- Oh, thank you.
- Excellent.
- They're beautiful.
- That was the first one that
halfway decently worked out.
I didn't quite have
the guts to further,
To really ask her
for her phone number
After she accepted,
graciously, my card.
But I wouldn't,
the way she reacted,
If I would actually get
an email from christie.
I would say, at least from
A judgement of american society,
I clearly must have some
Sort of commitment issues.
At least, if I talk to girls--
- They're going to tell you
that within five minutes.
- I think that I have
commitment issues.
I did have, of course, a
very long relationship.
- You did?
I went out with anni
for 11 years.
- You did?
- Yeah.
We were friends
for many, many years
Before we started dating.
And we had a quite
wonderful relationship,
But towards the end,
we really sort of got
On each others' nerves.
Mostly small things.
I could never really figure
out how that happened.
Did she start to do things
she never did before?
Or am I now getting
agitated about stuff I used
To be fine with?
And I'd say that right now,
I'm not sure if it was a
Good idea to break it off.
But I can say this.
I of course am a big list-maker.
I have also made lists of
Positives and negatives.
- Negatives.
- Yes and it was
just a little bit
More negatives than positives.
And I recently went
Back into the diary
And saw those lists again and--
- What did you see?
- I saw that I
Left out a good number of
Positives that I would see now.
- really?
That there were
Things that I didn't
give her any credit for,
That she clearly would
have deserved credit.
That I basically
Took for granted.
Let's say that last
pro and con list,
Done from today's point of view,
Would look radically different.
One thing that I think
Initially took guts was the
The opening card
of the studio itself.
This was, I think, 17 years ago.
And it was just
a stupid little joke.
My girlfriend at the time
thought that,
Oh, I'm going to
lose the one client
By sending this out.
But there were one or two
Other clients that followed.
So, it actually worked.
Shit, no, shit, it would
have to be much higher.
You see, like the distance
between the h
And the a is now too big.
- okay, the one thing
That we haven't tried,
Which would, again, take
probably five, 10 minutes
If we didn't talk to
each other, at all.
hillman was a rock star.
And I don't mean this
I mean he had a major
label recording contract.
And he'd toured for 10 years.
And how do I know about this?
From wikipedia.
He, himself never really
talks about it.
- I would say
if we're gonna do it,
I don't think there's
any real point in doing it,
When we can do it with--
you're gonna be right,
You're gonna be right.
But just give me
like five minutes.
We won't even say anything.
Just let me see the
"having" as it was before.
Where we were.
And there might
Be some surprising
new thing that happens.
- well, sheenah thinks
I should be less cautious
In my relationships.
And I have been infatuated
With a very private woman
In my hometown in austria
For a very long time now.
And she would hate to be
Mentioned in this film.
So I'll just call her
miss private.
When I think of her,
it's never sexual
It's always about some
smart thing she said
Or some nice thing
that she's done.
I'm going to austria right now
And let's see,
maybe I finally get
My shit together
and I'll be able to tell her.
Of course, miss private came.
- Miss private, yeah.
- she told me that
she made some decisions,
That she has to stop that
safe, mousy life back home.
- oh, really?
And I sort of looked
at her and said, well,
That, uh, that sounds
Pretty good for my cause.
Then we kissed and
It basically went from there.
She was here in a week when
new york was at its finest.
Like, you know,
- Oh, I do.
It was super warm, the sun
was shining every single day.
And I feel that it was
More new york than me
Who won her over.
New york was so much on my side.
- Yeah.
- - that's your rival.
- yes, yeah.
- 2:00, okay, perfect.
Okay, goodbye.
He'll be here at 2:00.
- Oh, excellent.
The institute for contemporary
art in philadelphia
Invited us to create an exhibit.
I immediately thought, this
could be about happiness.
The happy show.
I've been doing promotional
Things for so long now.
This could be
a great possibility
To use the language of design
For something more personal.
When she stayed over
Like, for me,
it was oddly friendshippy.
- really?
- yeah.
Not passionate.
- Passionate.
- And oddly companionate.
- mm-hmm.
- I mean, you know,
Even down to the the point
That she smelled very familiar.
Or more particularly, she
smelled like my sister.
But on the other hand
it's also not so sexy.
- It's not sexy at all.
- This represents
what it would look like
When it's a generated
Pedal power, okay?
- her concern was
that I'm very, very rational.
Actually, too rational for her.
And I make this whole
relationship so rational.
Yeah, it's just not
emotional enough for her.
- and what does
she exactly mean by that?
- I think
what she means by it
Is that there is probably not
I don't know, enough gazing
Into each others eyes.
- romance, you mean?
If there is such a thing
as passionate love,
I am not in passionate
love with miss private.
- So, she senses that?
- Yes.
- yes.
- - yeah.
I'm trying to get like
a perfect packed one.
So, the end is the test.
- That looks nice too, though.
Using them like this.
- Yeah, yep.
- Fine, let's go
for the coffees.
Yes, yeah.
Hillman is very sick.
You're okay now?
He does not wanna talk about it.
He's been absent a lot lately,
And the whole team has
been avoiding the issue.
I'm not quite sure
how to bring it up.
I was missing you badly,
And missing the input badly.
- I want you to be involved
Every single step of the way.
- On all things.
I'm extremely aware that
the little graphic shots
Are not gonna make the movie.
They're gonna be sweet
Nice little things, the
movie will need a story.
And it needs to be emotional.
And I think that I'm very
much relying on you for that.
- so miss private
and I split up.
- you did?
She said, well, I think
we both made up our minds.
And we clearly both knew
what she was talking about.
Ultimately my guess would
Be that that is, you know,
Just another boring
fear of commitment.
- I think I called it trapped,
And you called it bound.
Do you remember that?
- I think you have a big
fear of being trapped
In a conflictual situation.
And most people
who avoid commitment
Are really avoiding conflict.
- It's strange, I know with
people that work with me,
After 10 minutes,
No problem at all.
And I've not been somebody
Who falls in love
at first sight at all.
you have a lot of caution.
- Yep.
- A lot of caution
about falling in love.
Maybe not about
everything in life,
But certainly
about falling in love.
- I guess,
you know, what I'm trying
To figure out here is
whether something about
You or your strengths,
The way you live your life,
Makes it simply difficult
for you to connect
Deeply with women.
- Yeah.
And that's why
we call it falling.
You don't have to choose fall.
You're just walking along
and you fall.
It's developing a long term
companionate love relationship,
That's what's harder.
- So, do you think that...
That's the question,
do you think that a long term
Companionate relationship
is possible without the
Passion that comes up front--
- Absolutely.
It's absolutely possible.
- It is possible?
- Yes.
- Yeah.
- Yes.
And that's the way traditional
marriages often were.
You simply
put the people together.
They might not love
Each other at first,
They don't know each other.
But they can develop very,
Very deep companionate
love relationships.
So, it's not that the
Passionate love is essential.
But it is one of
the greatest experiences
And for somebody who
craves peak experiences,
And strong emotions,
It is one that I would
not want you to miss.
- But from your point of view,
Miss private and I
could actually have
a beautiful relationship
Even though it didn't
feel very passionate
At the beginning.
- Absolutely, absolutely.
- Let's see that last one again.
- It just ends with the plane.
- I'm really trying to
work more on the film
And less on our regular
commercial projects.
- and then you'll
think of some ideas?
- Yes.
- great.
- Should we set a deadline?
- Otherwise, I'm just
gonna forget.
- Yeah.
- Jessica has great ideas,
Knows how to execute them,
And most important of all,
Has the wherewithal
To make them real.
- Well, we could film,
like, crops.
- yeah.
Even though she's super young,
She's crazily experienced.
I mean, she designed a website
showing other designers
How to design websites at 13.
I asked her
if she wants to become
A partner in the studio.
She did.
- Pouring like a yellow
paint or something,
And you saw the dripping.
Maybe we start with the plants.
- we renamed the
studio sagmeister and walsh,
And designed a card
announcing that.
We might need
some books for you.
- okay, and I think
we need about this many.
- okay.
- Okay, and here we are.
Okay, guys,
and start looking at me.
Look above me.
And you're just
looking at each other
As you're standing there.
Cool, okay, and now
Switch it around.
Great, again, both
looking at me.
- Oh, my god, did you
tan for this, specially?
- Maybe.
I have a wound
that never will heal
and you are
the one
that constantly peels
the skin away
each and every day
why don't you please
why don't you please
why don't you please
and I have a way
of seeing these things
the skin on your bones
it comes deadly aloes
pull it away
pull it away
pull it away
- okay.
- well, I felt
It was sort of strange that
We are making
a movie on happiness
And we having a director,
a co-director,
Who is, you know, seriously ill.
How do you feel?
- Just
Having been dealt a set of cards
That are really difficult,
You know, and no breaks.
- In some ways,
I'm actually surprised
That you still
wanna be a part of it.
For all the sort of daily crap
That documentary film
making brings with it.
You know, that you
don't just say, oh, no.
- You know, I mean,
I've got two kids.
I like to see them
watch me work.
It's really gratifying.
They get to see
what their dad does.
It floats your,
Well-being, I guess.
- There were times
When I'd almost wish it would
Be the other way around.
I mean, are you
angry at all, or?
- I've done the angry thing.
So heavily.
All kinds of things.
- what,
you've thrown chairs?
- Oh, sure.
I did that.
And all it did, really,
Was scare the kids.
Just scared my wife,
And made me feel bad.
- For hillman, the
Last year of his life
Was not about changing,
But about trying to keep
Everything exactly the same.
He wanted to eat ice cream
with our kids.
He wanted to work on
the happy film.
He wanted to
lie in bed and talk.
And he wanted to have
friends over for dinner.
Why should I accept death,
he'd ask me,
When my life is so beautiful?
- I'm not sad enough.
I'm sad
That I'm not sad enough.
I had a wonderful
conversation with christina.
She is so honest.
I really can learn from her.
I mean, she really goes deep.
You know, I asked her
how she's doing.
And she said, well,
Tess is just thriving.
Her youngest daughter
Is just thriving
Since hillman died.
What a difficult thing to admit.
And you notice that it's just,
There was so much sadness
in their house,
That it's so great to
Have that sadness lifted.
And that, if she's, later on,
I'm sure that she's
gonna realize
That she has no dad.
And there's going to be
difficulties with that.
But right now, she's thriving.
And when I said, well,
Correct me if I'm wrong but,
I would think that hillman
would be thrilled with that,
She said, oh, was
Not quite sure,
She was sort of quiet, and
I said, well, or not.
There's a darkness in all of us.
And an imperfection.
- it only hits me now.
I miss him.
I really do.
- Given the information
that we've gathered
In terms of your genetics,
I have to say that you're
Probably the healthiest person
That I've seen
all week in my practice.
So let's talk,
then, about anxiety.
- If I would go into a room
Where I don't know anybody,
I can be quite good about that
With a little bit of a going
Over a bump, introduce myself.
Or I can also be
anxious about that.
- And you don't suffer
from being lonely?
- no.
No, I really don't.
And spending time by yourself
Is okay?
- you're okay in your own company?
- Yes.
- So, your anxiety levels then
- I'm a little bit
afraid I'm painting this
Picture a little bit too rosy.
I'm afraid at the end I'm not
Gonna get anything because--
- well,
we'll talk about it though.
I mean, if you were coming to me
And reporting mild
anxiety that you wanted to
Do something about,
I wouldn't be opposed
to prescribing
Something like lexapro
In a low dose for you,
as a trial.
- Yeah.
- But it has side effects.
- The side effects are dry
mouth, headache, gi upset,
Anxiety, insomnia--
That's not a very good
side effect to have, no?
- These are all possible
side effects.
98% of the people
who take lexapro
Feel calmer and feel better.
The other thing that happens
when you first start a
Medication like this,
Your brain is going
through some changes.
Actually, your neural circuits
are sort of
Being rearranged.
If everybody knew
how complicated it was
And what these drugs do,
Probably, nobody
would take them.
- Yeah, this is the second day.
And I definitely had to
Schlep myself and force
myself to go running.
This is four days now
of lexapro.
And I definitely feel
Less energetic.
I sleep more.
Today I even had blotchy skin.
There's actually absolutely
No betterment whatsoever.
there might be one thing
That we could alter slightly,
Rather than having to abandon
The experiment completely.
And that would be to
Change the medicine
To a nighttime dose.
- Oh, excellent.
Meaning that I get lame
at night and lethargic,
And have the energy
during the day?
- right.
- Perfect.
In all my lethargy, one
wonderful thing happened
Though and it was that
A very wonderful interviewer
came over
To set up an interview for
Some german arty magazine.
We just hit it off.
There was ample time to talk.
And she seems so positive.
And so, we just came
Back onto the roof
And stayed up
Until the sun came up.
And I'll see her
for dinner again tonight.
Okay, who are you?
- Who am I?
- What do you have
to say about happiness?
- I enjoy being happy.
How I came about it is
that I definitely realized
That I'm not so much in control.
I'm happy to experience it,
you know,
There might be moments
where I don't,
They're not the most
Desirable moments,
But at the moment,
I'm doing quite well.
So I would say bring it on.
- What I loved
about the book was
That he very clearly states
that in his experience,
Three things work the best.
And I am now speaking
to you on drugs.
I started this regimen
two weeks ago
And I truly hated it.
And then four days ago
I met a girl.
And that changed everything.
So, when you're in
between drugs and girls,
No competition.
No competition.
My favorite statistics.
There's one comparing
companionate love
To passionate love.
So, clearly,
I am now in the top level.
But jonathan says
that in his research,
This lasts for six months.
If you look at the whole thing
From a 60 year perspective,
The passionate lovers
look pretty silly.
It looks like
a flash in the pan.
While the companionate lovers
Are really the ones that stayed.
So, if by November, I'm
not so passionate in love
With the girl
that I met five days ago,
I don't have to wonder about
it, because it's natural.
Because if I would have
those kind of dopamines
In my body for longer
than six months,
It would actually be
very unhealthy for me.
- Like, so many people thought
That it was a performance,
That it was not real,
that I made you up
Basically for the talk.
- Like the whole thing
was kind of, like,
too good to be true.
- I told you, I was not
lying when I was telling you
That the pharmaceutical
company hired me.
It's all business, hun.
You know, like, and I will
expire in three months.
- Well, I can
tell you that
I love big pharma,
I love big pharma.
- I have to download
a song from nick cave
Called into my arms.
And I knew, wow,
it's all so cheesy,
But that's gonna be our song.
I just knew.
and I don't believe in
the existence of angels
but looking at you I
wonder if that's true
to each burn a candle
for you
to make bright
and clear your path
and to walk like
christ in grace and love
and guide you into my arms
into my arms, o lord
into my arms, o lord
into my arms, o lord
- Happy?
into my arms
but I believe in love
- I asked veza yesterday
If she wants to get married
To me and she said yes.
- I love the idea of
committing to each other.
And being married to oneself
And being also married to
A partner who you truly love.
And I see that in you.
You're the first man
who definitely
Sweeps me off the ground.
And definitely
takes my breath away.
And, you know, makes my
Heart go boom, boom, boom.
You know, I really love you.
I really do.
So, enough now.
- I love you back.
- on three.
One, two.
- I used to say
that this is so stupid,
Expecting the girl
to be great in bed,
Be kind, be intelligent,
Funny, beautiful.
The crazy thing
is that she is it.
I didn't think that
there was somebody
That perfect out there.
I've never been
so in love in my life.
I asked her to marry me
and she said yes.
This is all after 10 days,
And this is the first woman
in my life
That I've ever asked
to marry me.
- Oh, my gosh.
- so, it's,
suddenly there is that,
Even though I never expected it.
Or at least not consciously
expected it.
I think unconsciously
Of course I wanted it.
- right.
- And that's just
eerie in a way.
- Well, I mean, it may or
may not be a coincidence
That you met the perfect woman
During this medication trial.
You, over the last 49 years
Have been anxious and
sort of tightly wound.
This is the first time
You ever tried anything
That took away that anxiety.
So maybe it's opened you up.
I'm much more sharing.
I talk much more
than I normally would.
I stopped eating, I lost
15 pounds in the meantime.
I sleep very little, between
three and five hours a day.
And I have incredible energy.
Like, my work
is going fantastic.
- are you using
more caffeine?
Yeah, I mean, yesterday I'm
sure I had 15 espressos.
- 15?
- yeah.
can I see this on you?
- oh, sure.
- Yeah, smaller one it is.
Number six.
- No, I think just
espresso, just as it is.
- What's this?
You've gotta be kidding me?
- well, let's see.
- So, it's official now, yeah?
- Uh huh.
- It's beautiful.
- I'm having
all of her birthmarks
Tattooed on my arm.
And she's having all of
mine tattooed on hers.
- okay, can you hear?
- can you hear us?
- Are we all ready?
I can hear us fine too.
- Yeah, check, check, one, two.
- check,
yep, we're good.
How do you feel about
all the filming?
- Me, personally?
Very comfortable.
I think it feels
very natural to me
Because I really wanna
support stefan's happiness,
And of course I wanna
support him in his work.
And it's been a big
topic for me, happiness.
- veza,
you said you know
About these three experiments.
- so, we've done
two of the experiments.
And here we are
amidst the third.
- Which I ruined, basically.
- tell me about it.
Fall out of love with you
because the whole thing
Could be a drug induced--
- Not at all.
- but I've only known
you the way I've known you.
How is it for you guys
to see me with stefan?
I think this is actually
interesting to ask you guys.
- I've never seen stefan
as happy as he's been.
Almost recklessly happy.
- do you think
that's lexapro?
- Do I think it's lexapro?
This, you're concerned.
- no, I'm not concerned.
- I just saw it in your face a little bit.
- - no.
- I mean,
you clearly have
Doubts about all of this.
- I'm just trying
to ask the questions
That I think you would ask
If you were standing
where I was standing.
- what would
you think if you heard
Three months ago
I started taking lexapro,
I was terribly depressed
for a week.
I met a woman,
I fell completely in love,
And we're going to get married.
- Oh, crazy.
Another person, crazy.
Me, it's different.
Because I have an
immediate experience of me.
And I know how it went.
I've never been so happy.
I mean, you know, I have
never had in my life,
Yeah, I probably had
a day that I would say
That was like a number 10 day,
Like a 10 out of 10.
But I've had 10 days
like this in a row.
- unbelievable.
And too good to be true.
- Yeah, yeah.
And as we both know, normally,
In my experience,
every single time,
Too good to be true
means exactly that.
- yeah, I mean,
I think it's fascinating
How you know about this
concept of romantic love
And companionate love.
And it's like you're aware
scientifically of the timeline.
- the only part
of the rider-elephant duo
that knows, is the rider.
The elephant doesn't
give a shit about this,
About this knowledge.
The elephant just does
what he wants.
The elephant falls in love
Totally and crazily and
And just goes
in that direction.
The rider is just sort of
sitting on top of the elephant
Saying, oh, you know,
Are you really sure?
You're on drugs.
And the elephant just goes.
- yeah.
- so, baby, we
had a fight today, no?
In the morning or,
Yeah, I think you can
call it a fight.
What do you think?
- I don't think it was a fight.
You should see me fight.
- yeah?
- no
Yeah, we did.
And look at we
are still here.
- I'm about
a week off drugs.
And right now
I'm not doing well.
- let's hear
what's been going on.
- It's been not great,
I have to say.
In general, when it's not been,
The outer circumstances
Haven't been that fantastic,
I surely haven't been
fantastic either.
- I'm not sure
that the lexapro
In your system
Was really the true you.
What's going on in terms
of the relationship?
- Not as ecstatic as it was.
- well,
maybe it's normalizing.
- Yeah, yeah.
Level of passion can
continue over the long run.
- I mean, that's basically
what I had expected.
Yeah, I don't think that it can.
- Whenever you make
one of these changes,
You wanna give it a few months.
Don't be bouncing around with
Just four or five weeks off.
You know, let your brain
and body get back
To whatever level it's gonna be
For at least a couple of months.
And whatever you do,
Don't break up with veza
in the next few weeks.
Give it a couple of months.
Get back to your baseline
And see how things are.
- yeah.
I thank you very, very much
For coming and for listening.
What you see here,
They are part of a whole series
Of maxims that
I always felt was helpful
To at least know of
What I actually have learned
In my life so far.
This piece itself, the way
that it works is basically,
You look through the frame
And there is a smile detection
Software here somewhere.
So if I smile properly
It actually does reward me
By becoming colorful.
And this is a sentence that
Came out of cognitive therapy.
The step up to it,
basically, my therapist saw
That I'm not quite ready
enough for confrontation.
The elevators.
And then a freight elevator
That opened up differently.
Press the button and it
tells you what to do next.
Look, I'll show you
my favorite ones here.
See the curve?
- yes.
- most people feel
Like a seven or an eight.
Want one?
Put a quarter in here.
It rolls outside.
Anybody can take it in
front of the museum.
And this one.
Companionate love,
Passionate love.
And you have six months.
So, passionate love
does go down.
And companionate love has
A possibility to grow.
So we'll have to transform
It into companionate love.
- No, but I already--
- but keeping
some of the passion.
- But I already feel
companionate love with you,
From the beginning.
- This is what I have
to expect with you?
- Mm-hm.
- Yeah?
- Mm-hm.
- I think so.
I mean, I haven't been there.
No, but in the past,
it's sort of like it was
My pattern, you know?
- Well, then break it.
- I don't think
it's breakable, baby.
I think it's human.
- no.
- and I don't
have expectations
That it's gonna go on
in that sort of passionate level
And I think that that's good.
- You know what the difference
Between me and you is?
I don't even think about it.
I'm here now.
That's the difference.
- And I, of course,
have to think about it
Because, you know,
I did all that.
You know, I've been dealing
With all this research for--
- I know.
- A long time now.
In general,
a problem with relationships
Is that the expectations
are too high.
Or that one of the reasons
why my parents
Had such
a great marriage, I think,
Is because they didn't really
Have a lot of expectations.
They didn't know each
other very well and--
- No, I see that,
no, I see that.
- Good.
Let's leave it there.
I'm like afraid
To provoke more arguments.
- Welcome to
the sacred ceremony.
To this beautiful opportunity
To leave our old self behind.
Your life will be
in line with nature.
- veza's model
friend suggested ayahuasca.
I agreed
and we tried it out together.
- Your eyes.
it made no difference.
Every month we had a fight
That went all the way
to the edge, basically,
Where we broke up.
- I feel like,
okay, whoa,
What did I do that you're
so irritated with me?
Well, I'm just saying
I want you to be happy
With what we do and whatnot.
- Oh, yeah, no, no,
absolutely, yeah.
- Good to know.
- it's a little bit like,
And I'm really scared in a way
That this will turn you off.
Because, you know,
I mean, simply, if you
don't get along with me,
Then why would you wanna
stay with me, you know?
- I think I said that wrong.
That I don't think that
we don't get along.
another big fight today.
In the morning.
Very close to the edge.
And veza asked me afterwards
If I still wanted
to get married.
And I didn't really know
what else to do,
So I made another
pro and con list.
Getting married.
Pro, four points.
Against, seven points.
- Such a crazy thing
that we were.
Such a fantastic
falling in love couple.
I mean, I've never
Fallen so hard
And so deeply in love.
And we are not a
Companionate love couple.
you know, here you are.
You set off
to do this science experiment.
In my office two years ago,
three years ago,
whatever it was,
When we were talking about this
What was clear
was that your weaknesses
Were about
interpersonal connection
And commitment and gratitude.
And I think I even said,
You can go back
and look at the footage,
I think I even said
something like,
Well, it would
be interesting to see
If you fall in love during
- yeah.
- Because this is where your weakness is.
And so, you did fall in love.
Three times.
And you go off and
you're doing meditation,
And bang, this--
a relationship,
Which blows out of the
water any possibility
To measure whether, okay,
That's a little bit funny.
And then you go and you
do cognitive therapy,
And the same thing happens.
- yeah.
- Now it gets funnier.
And a joke always has,
You know, three sections.
So the fact that
it happens three times,
Stefan, this should
be a movie about
You and your weaknesses,
And your attempts to fix them.
- oh fuck, this is
gonna be such a nightmare
To figure this movie out.
I started out to get some
really clear answers.
And what I got back
Is a bunch of mush.
- {jonathan]
what have you learned
About the causes of happiness?
Do you have
a better understanding
Of what makes you happy?
- I didn't wanna make a film
About questions.
And I hate all this stuff.
Oh, it's not about the answers.
It's about the right questions.
Blah, blah, blah.
This is a total disaster.
everything ain't going
the way I planned
everything ain't going
the way I planned
everything ain't going
the way I planned
so I'm gonna sit
myself down right here
and see--
- Trying to look good
Limits my life.
I know, but I'm getting
getting very concerned
About how I look in this film.
I'm a 50 year old guy who dates
Women 20 years younger.
And calls them girls.
I just spent the past
six years of my life
Working on this thing
That says I'm an asshole.
What a great use of my time.
I should have stuck to
chairs made out of letters.
- so, you
chose the three techniques
That I describe in chapter two
of the book
For changing the elephant.
But your problem
wasn't the elephant.
You could just as well
have chosen
The three aspects of between.
So, what if you had worked
on your relationships?
And worked on the satisfaction
You get from work?
And tried to get involved
With some sort of larger project
In the company of people that
you really like and respect?
That would be changing the
conditions of your life
In ways that, I would predict,
Happiness would then follow
As you got a better between.
- well, in a way,
That has been
what I've been doing.
I mean, I definitely
Worked on my relationships.
Not all that successfully,
but I did.
And I have been more
satisfied with my work.
The happy show
was a big success.
I mean, almost a 1/4 of
a million came to see it.
And this whole film project
Surely feels larger than me.
Basically outside of my control.
Like I'm the rider
and it's the elephant.
This film started as a graphic
design project six years ago.
And somehow
it all became about me.
I guess I could have
continued designing stuff
That I know how to do.
It would have been
So much easier.
Trying to chase after
something more meaningful
Turned out to be
a big pain in the ass.
But it also did
Make my life fuller.
everything ain't going
the way I planned
everything ain't going
the way I planned
everything ain't going
the way I planned
- So what's the purpose,
Why am I actually here?
I guess it would be
to do something
That either delights
Or helps other people.
Or simply finding something
That's bigger than myself,
And dedicate myself to it.
I'm still blowing air
into balloons.
Trusting, somehow, into
The lightness of things.
Believing it will work.
There's a shitload
Of possibilities.
One day it will be me up there.
I will fly.
Let's go.
everything ain't going
the way I had planned
everything ain't going
the way I had planned
just gonna sit there
sit down and write it
see what happens
to me
if I don't do
a god damn thing at all
everything ain't going
the way I planned
everything ain't going
the way I planned
so I'm gonna sit down
sit down right here
and see what happens
to me if I don't do
a god damned thing at all
everything ain't going
the way I planned
everything ain't going
the way I planned
so I'm going to sit my
self down right here
and see what happens
to me if I don't do
a god damn thing at all
everything ain't going
the way I planned
everything ain't going
the way I had planned
everything ain't going
the way I had planned
everything ain't going
the way I had planned
so I'm going to sit my
self down right here
and see what happens to me
if I don't do a
god damn thing at all
everything ain't going
the way I had planned
everything ain't going
the way I had planned
so I'm gonna sit
myself down right here
and see what happens
to me if I don't do
a god damn thing at all