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Well-Being Films 
 

All are available streaming online either through Netflix or Amazon.

 

“Life in a Day”: Despite an ostensibly precarious premise and crowd-sourced material, expert cutting and a thoughtful soundtrack result in an absorbing documentary with a clear and profound message about the nature, causes, and meaning behind happiness.   Produced by Ridley Scott & directed by Kevin Macdonald and expectedly pensive and moving. Apropos to the 21st century zeitgeist.  Available on Netflix streaming.

 

“Happy”: Key academic leaders (including Ed Diener, The Dalai Lama, Richard Davidson, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Daniel Gilbert) in happiness research review the major contemporary scientific findings on happiness.  Provides a concise overview of fundamental concepts made more engaging via powerful (humorous, moving, uplifting, and tear-jerking) personal stories from around the world.  The films website includes opportunities to “spread the word” and “get involved.” Available on Amazon streaming video. 

 

“This Emotional Life”: A PBS series.  Host Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University interviews experts on diverse aspects of human emotions, including many from Stanford University.  Celebrities also disclose personal experiences and insights.  Topics include: addiction, adolescence, altruism, anger, attachment, ADHD, autism, bipolar, borderline personality, social connectedness, bullying, creativity & flow, depression, happiness, humor, grief and loss, PTSD, postpartum mood disorder, meditation, relationships, resilience, and stress/anxiety.  Available on Netflix streaming. 

 

“Examined Life”: Progressive philosophers and intellectuals comment on the ethical dimensions of well-being.  Includes cursory, thought provoking synopses on diverse dilemmas including social justice, environmentalism, historical progress, happiness and well-being, the body, and interconnectedness.  Contributors include Judith Butler, Kwame Appiah, Michael Hardt, Martha Nussbaum, Avital Ronell, Slavoj Zizek, Peter Singer, & Cornel West.  Available on Netflix streaming. 

 

“The Four Noble Truths”: In one of the first of his appearances in the Western world, the Dalai Lama provides an introduction to the basic tenets of Buddhism, including the central aspect of happiness in this world view; an excellent introduction.  Available on Netflix streaming. 

  

“The Buddha”: An entertaining and engaging overview of the history of Buddhism, including the experiential revelations of Siddhartha and his subsequent search for sustainable well-being and happiness.  Available on Netflix streaming and PBS. 

 

“I Am”: Tom Shadyac (director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, & Bruce Almighty) shares his personal story and insights and interviews intellectuals from around the world in order to convey a message of interconnectedness, cooperation, and intentionality.  Includes statements by Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, and others.  Available on Amazon streaming. 

 

"This Emotional Life," PBS (Three-part series). "Drawing upon cutting-edge insights from brain and behavioral experts, we tell the stories of everyday people on their paths to mental and emotional wellness." This Emotional Life is a co-production of the NOVA/WGBH Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, Inc. A Film by Kunhardt McGee Productions. ©/™ 2009 WGBH Educational Foundation and Vulcan Productions, Inc. Available on PBS Online.