Are You Happier Now?

Did you manage to become happier?

Yes, but surprisingly only about 8 months after the completion of the film. I had heard our scientific adviser Jonathan Haidt’s conclusion that happiness comes from in between countless times during the filming and editing process: He thinks happiness can ensue if I manage to get the relationship to other people right, this includes far away acquaintances and close family, if I can get the relationship to my work right and the relationship to something that’s bigger than myself right. Only then happiness can rise from here and there from in between. When I started my current sabbatical in Mexico City and looked for a main subject to work on, it immediately became clear to me that it will need to be ‘Beauty’, as it will force me to be in close relationship with many people, it will force me to work with many new and old experts, artists, designers and producers, and it will surely be bigger than me. The following months have been among the happiest of my life.

Are you closer now to the key to happiness?

Well, the last time I made daily notes on my happiness, I reached an average of 7.5/10, when I had started 6 year prior, it was at 6.8/10. I might not call this the key to happiness, but it does constitute a proper improvement.

“Happiness is based 40% on doing new activities, 10% on the state of your life and 50% in genetics”. The half of it being genetics is a bit daunting; it seems that you can’t do much to be happier if your genetics are against it. Or can you?

The research you mention was conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a well-respected Professor at the University of California at Riverside. Ultimately it's the same as in sports: I might not have the best genetic build-up to be fastest in - say - the 1000 meter run, and will therefor never become world champion, but if I train properly, I will get much faster.

How has the project changed you?

Originally, I wanted to find an answer to the question if it is possible to train my own mind in the same way it is possible to train my body. Can I – through various techniques that will include acts of meditation, cognitive therapy and drugs – increase my overall level of happiness? It turned out that these main strategies are of only limited effectiveness, and that it really is more about creating an environment that touches on my relationships, work and something that’s bigger than myself where happiness can develop out from in between. Working on the film allowed me to think about the bigger picture properly and more frequently.

Have you ever suffered from depression or other symptoms, which would directly affect your ability to be ‘happy’?

No, not in any serious way. I was rather down and a lethargic in the year after my Mum died, and the stress/sadness of that was instrumental in catching a serious infection of the prostate but have since recovered fine.


What Is Happiness?

How do you define happiness?

One notion I find helpful is the division of this giant term happiness into short-, medium- and long-term; it’s called level one, level two, and level three happiness and the classification is determined by how long it lasts. You have things like joy, bliss or an orgasm in the short version. A happy moment would fall into this category. In the middle version, you have things like satisfaction or wellbeing, lying around on the couch on a Sunday afternoon with the paper and the dog would fall under this. The long term includes finding your calling or what you’ve been put on this world for. All of these extremely different things fall under the same term of happiness even though an orgasm has nothing to do with finding your calling. Unless you work in the porn industry, but very few of us do.

Can we be constantly happy?

I do think it is impossible to reach permanent happiness. Daniel Nettle thinks of happiness as a carrot on a stick, a compass designed by evolution to show the way. It is designed so that we never permanently find it. If we would, we would likely sit around and eat sweet and fatty foods all day which is not in the interest of evolution. A compass that points always to the north is not useful.

Is happiness really that important?

Every single act that I perform is in some way related to happiness. There's a famous quote by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal who says that even the person who kills himself, does it because he thinks this will make him happier, i.e., he'll will be better off dead.


Why did you make a film on Happiness?

You have spent a lot of time contemplating happiness. What was it that led you down this path?

I was always interested in how design touches me emotionally, and eventually put a talk together titled "Design and Happiness" (which had slowly evolved out of another presentation called "Can Design touch someone's Heart?"). We've received a lot of excited feedback about that talk. During the second sabbatical in Indonesia, when I looked for something meaningful to do with my time, that same subject came up again.

When you set out to do this project, did you ever imagine it would be so personal?

During our second sabbatical in Indonesia I was looking for something meaningful to design, and The Happy Film seemed to fit the bill: It forced me into doing a whole lot of research and experiments within this field. I also figured that whatever we do might have a chance to be of possible service to other people. It also allowed me to work in a challenging media, as I had never done a film before. I was always interested in how to improve my and my surroundings well being, in a sense, why be interested in anything else? Most things I do everyday are somehow geared towards this goal anyway, often just not in a very direct way. And it seemed more challenging to attempt to get a handle on the subject in film rather than print, trying out a new medium prevents me to become too complacent. When we started out, it was supposed to be a general film on happiness. As this quickly proofed impossible as the subject was just too large, it became a film on my own happiness (as I’m an expert on it). This then required that it would be personal, and it slowly evolved into a film about me. This certainly was not the plan when we started out.

Do you think it self-indulgent to make a film about your own happiness?

Yes. When I did research for this film and read many, many psychology books on happiness, I found that whenever a scientist talked about something that had actually happened to her, I took this much more seriously than when she wrote about a scientific study she commissioned. We changed the direction of the film from a general documentation on the subject to focus mainly on personal experiences, hoping that viewers would have the same reaction as I had. The film in itself will not make viewers happy (in the same way as watching Jane Fonda exercise wont make you lose weight), but I do hope that it might be the little kick for some viewers to explore these directions themselves.

There must have been some aspect of your life that you wanted to keep private. Was there is a line you drew?

I had received the advice from Spike Jones, a very wise (and excellent) filmmaker to “shoot everything and edit later”. We did follow this advice and shot everything, even including in the bedroom (without a camera person, just a tripod mounted camera in the corner) but wound up using nothing from that. The question what is necessary for the story and what would go over into territory of reality TV \was on our minds quite a bit.

Where in you or your background does this ability to shed your outwear come from?

The late Quentin Crisp, the gay celebrity and subject of Sting’s hit “I’m an English man in New York” visited my students at the School of Visual Arts in New York and among the many quotable things he said was also: "Everybody is interesting". Apparently journalist had come back to him and said: “But Mr. Crisp, this is not true, there are so many boring people out there.” He thought about it and settled on: "Everybody who is honest is interesting". This seemed like a true revelation to me. I thought if I just keep things honest, they would automatically be interesting. And like every designer, I like for my designs to be interesting.

Are you happy that the film is finished? Or are you anxious for the next of life’s hurdles?

Oh yes, I am relieved that its over. And I’m not anxious about the future.

Are you happy with how the movie turned out?

Yes, now that it seems that our initial desire, to produce something that audiences can relate to, has proven true, I’m very happy with it. I do get dozens and dozens of letters stating this in a believable way. Here are some quick, random excerpts:

“Your openness and honesty amazed me. I strive to live an honest life, with myself and with others. I think, in general, I succeed more often than I fail. Lately I've been failing more. But seeing your journey reinvigorated me.”

“I went to the Happy Film in Tel Aviv. When the movie ended (even before the amazing subtitles screened) the whole audience stood up and applauded. First time I saw something like that happens in the movies.”

“I have suffered depression. I used to go to therapy and take drugs and recently as my situation got better I stopped. I enjoyed the graphics of this movie so much it made me envy them. I got touched so much by this movie I felt like I'm taking part of it.”

“The film was absolutely incredible. I've been crying every 30 minutes since it's ended.”

What can you say to young filmmakers who want to get into the industry, but also want to make films for their art?

I would say: Stay out. It’s terrible. Make a blog. If you spend 10% of the effort, money and time it takes to make a documentary movie, you’re going to make the very best blog in the world. It will likely be seen by many more people than the doc.

What do you hope people take home from seeing the film?

I would hope that there might be a part that might be helpful and a part that might be delightful. I’ve attended about three dozen screenings of the film and witnessed rather animated Q&A periods, some of them lasting longer than the film itself. It seems that the film is able transport a viewer into a space where dealing with this subject becomes possible. And I’d hope that it also can serve as the little kick in the ass that makes some people try out a strategy like meditation, or cognitive therapy or even medication themselves. And maybe more importantly consider taking Jonathan Haidt’s main message that it’s important to bring relationships, work and something that’s bigger than oneself onto a level, where happiness can arise from in between.


Can design make people happier?

Can a designed product make someone happier?

Right now over 50% of the world population live in cities. For this part of the population, EVERYTHING surrounding them has been designed, from the contact lens, to the cloth, the chair, the room, the house, the street, the park, the city. These designed surroundings play exactly the same role to a city dweller as nature does to an indigenous person living in a rain forest. They can be designed well or badly. They will make a difference. There are of course many products out there that do make our life easier, but we tend to only notice them when they fail badly. I can be in a plane going up and completely ignore the fact what an incredible piece of design that really is. I'll only really notice it when it crashes.


How to become happier at work?

What advice would you give to people who are looking for more happiness in their daily lives?

  1. When opening the inbox in the morning, single out one mail for a special thank you/praise.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Have low expectations and display incredible surprise and joy at the anomaly of something - against expectations - going right.

You’ve said that a sabbatical is a 12 out of 10 for replenishing creativity. Given that not everyone can take one for a year at a time, are there any other methods you can suggest for replenishing creativity and reigniting passion for design?

I think the time frame itself is less important than the commitment to spend a certain part of my time doing what I am truly interested in. Every designer whose work I admire conducts a version of this: Every late afternoon, one day a week, a couple of days every month, I've seen almost every version out there conducted in companies tiny and large.

You said, "to be happy we have to know who we are". Could art help us to know who you are? Personally, does art help you to know who you are?

As mentioned, as a maker I see the work that we do in the studio as design. I do not care much about definitions, but as the outside world does, it makes sense to abide. Donald Judd said that: “Design needs to work, art does not.” Art can just be, it needs no function. And yes, I do think that many artists create worlds that do define who they are. Good art allows us viewers a view of that world, a possibility to see it from a different point of view. Design can do the same, both for the maker and the viewer. It certainly had an enormous influence on defining who I am. I discovered important issues about myself by working on the film, among them that I am not a particularly thankful person. I've been trying to make gratitude a part of my life and think I've become a little bit better. But I need constant reminders: There are times when I can be truly thankful for a sweet gesture, and others where I just take my rather blessed situation for granted.

What part of your work makes you happiest?

I actually have a list:

  1. Thinking about ideas and content freely – with the deadline far away.
  2. Traveling to new places.
  3. Using a wide variety of tools and techniques.
  4. Working on projects that matter to me.
  5. Having things come back from the printer/programmer/builder done well.
  6. Getting feedback from people who see our work.
  7. Designing a project that feels partly brand new and partly familiar.
  8. Working without interruption on a single project.

Do you think that happiness is necessary to be creative? Or, instead, the ‘bad life’ of some artists is an ingredient that increases creative possibilities?

I myself do much, much better when I’m in good shape. I am also more useful to other people. When I am not doing well, I create nothing. Sometimes it’s possible to look back and make a piece about the time when I did not do well, but during the period itself, my productivity and creativity are very low.

How do you get your ideas? Do you feel truly happy while working? And if so, can you describe the feeling – and maybe relate it to how you feel in other parts of your life?

Ideas come from everywhere, just hopefully not from other graphic designers. I can be inspired by pretty much anything, a long train ride, a Renaissance painting, a piece of music, a newly occupied hotel room and it is interesting to translate that into the world of design. And yes, I can feel truly happy while working. Especially when I’m engaged in a craft I can get lost in. Other thoughts fall away; time falls away as I’m truly engaged in doing my best. It's what the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow. Many people manufacture that feeling with computer games, as by design they engage them – through the various levels of difficulty- at the edge of their capabilities.

You mentioned that your time in Hong Kong was a really low point in terms of both your design work and your happiness.

I stuck it out. There were parts that were quite enticing, mainly, that I made a shitload of money and was able to save most of it to eventually start my own studio in New York. I could fly to places fairly easily that were much more conducive to wellbeing than Hong Kong. But, even at that time I felt that if the best thing I can say about a place is that it’s a good spot to get to somewhere else, then it’s not a very good place. I knew that I needed to get out of there, and I put a couple of mechanisms into place that made sure of it. One was that I transferred within my company into a section that I almost knew for sure I was going to hate. I did hate it and then had to leave. I lived in a white neighborhood where there was always a taxi shortage so in the morning. You always stood in the extreme heat trying to get a taxi. While waiting I always thought next week I’m going to quit. I didn’t like where I was going and who I was becoming. And, maybe as importantly, I didn’t respect the expats who had been there for fifteen or twenty years. The term was “Old Asia Hand”—mostly British, drinking a lot, kind of macho with a supercilious air. And chances were that I would turn into something similar if I stayed in that environment. But I learned about all the things I never wanted to do again in my life and that proofed to be very helpful too.

What has been the happiest moment of your work-life?

Here is a little excerpt from my diary about a happy moment connected to work: When I first met Mick Jagger (while we designed Bridges to Babylon) I asked him about his favorite Stones covers and he mentioned without hesitation: Exile on Main street, Sticky Fingers and Some Girls. I said "We should have an easy time working together since I would have told you exactly the same covers only in a different order: Sticky Fingers, Some Girls and Exile on Main street”. Charlie Watts turned to Jagger and asked in lowered voice: "What's on Sticky Fingers?" to which Mick replies: "Oh, you know Charlie, the one with the zipper, the one that Andy did”. Good times.

In the Happy Film, at one point you say: ”If I’ve done it before, I get bored, if I haven’t done it before, I get anxious” – is that the driving force behind your creativity – and your life in more general terms? And if so, what is most important: the boredom of the anxiety?

I do believe there is a right mix, for me likely 75% I know what to do, 25% I have no clue. If it would have to choose between boredom and anxiety, I think I’d go for the latter.

What are you working on right now? And what are your dreams for the future? Have they changed – professionally and personally?

I find beauty totally and utterly underrated within design and contemporary art. Jessica and myself are planning a large project about it. If I can contribute to making something that is beautiful today, than today was a good day.

Are happiness and success interconnected?

It's tempting to answer this question with definitions of each term, as many people understand both 'happiness' and 'success' differently. As I'm incredibly bored by definitions I forgo this option and say that it seems that they are. There's a surprising study done showing that Oscar winners in the acting categories live on average 4 years longer than Oscar nominees.

To what extent professional success relates with money?

Many jobs became so complex that the feeling of ownership for the people doing these jobs was reduced to such low levels that money turned into one of the only yardstick for success. In general, jobs where people feel in control (and ownership of their tasks) are doing much better on the well-being scale. In the US a giant Gallup poll with 650,000 participants showed that money plays a big role in well being among the working poor but after the paycheck exceeds $85,000.00/year the improvements in happiness become too small to measure.

How can one keep work from falling into boredom over the years?

Change it up. We purposefully design many jobs by hand or using new and unexpected tools and processes, in order to create work that seems fresh and to keep ourselves fresh.

What companies can do to pursuit the happiness of its workforce?

It seems that the happiest employees are those who have a good sense of mission in their own work that generates a feeling of autonomy. The company that can provide that will be ahead of the curve.


How do the women portrayed in the film feel about it?

We showed rough cuts of the film to all the people featured and did listen to their input. Sometimes these were heated discussions, as we did not want to lose a part someone objected to. But at the end it became clear to me that just because I was willing to include scenes where I was clearly not at my best, that does not mean that all of my friends can be dragged into the same direction. We made changes. I am in close contact with all the women featured in the film and their reactions range from tepid agreement to enthusiastic support.


How much of the film is set up? How much is ‘real’?

We shot about 300 hours of footage, so of course there were many different directions possible in the editing room when we cut that down into 1.5 hours. The main questions asked during the edit were: Is this truthful, is this how it happened? How can we tell this more efficiently? Will it be interesting to watch? All the scenes happened that way; we did not set up any of them. For more throw away situations, like me entering a building or walking on a street, we sometimes repeated them because the light or angle was not right the first time. In a few instances, we put separate events together, like in the scene where I show the Happy Show to Veza: In the final film it seems like this happened at the opening of the exhibit, when it really occurred two weeks later. We felt this did not impact the story but allowed us to tell it more efficiently. Obviously, all the typographic bits were carefully planned and set up before hand.


Why did it take 7 years?

Why did it take so long?

To work without limitations proofed extremely difficult. I had written a script in the very beginning of the project, and we threw that out almost immediately, as we thought an open-ended approach would make a more interesting film. So we wound up with no deadline, no pre-conceived ending and no clear structure. When we normally start a new design project, either the client or we ourselves create our own set of limitations, borders we have to adhere to throughout the project. Every novel has to work within its own set of rules, so does every movie and every Pop-song. If you can do absolutely anything, you might wind up with nothing. I knew this before we started and ignored it anyway. Much difficulty arose.

As a print-designer working with the new media of film what has been the biggest challenge?

There have been challenges of EVERY nature at every corner. How to tell a long story? Which camera system delivers the sweet spot of mobility and quality? Which sequences work with what? How obvious do we need to be so people will understand? What should we include from the vast field of happiness research? How much openness of myself is required? When does this become over-sharing? Why is everything so expensive? And by far the most difficult of all: How to continue after our co-director died?

The film is an exploration of coping with sadness (at times). Did you see that coming?

I did not see a lot of things coming during the making of this film. It started out as a design project with me in rather fine mood. Then my Mum died. Our co-director Hillman Curtis died. Relationships fell apart. And yet, strangely, I don’t think it is ultimately a sad story. It is about what a mess life really is.

What made you happy during the shoot?

The time with Veza in Bali was certainly among the happiest of my life, ever. But because neither of us had been in a documentary before and often looked into the camera while filming, much of the footage turned out to be unusable. And the filming of the slow-motion typographic pieces were lots and lots of fun. To prepare something carefully and then seeing it come to life in front of a camera is a truly joyful experience.


What Have You Learned?

If you were to give advice on happiness is there one thing you'd suggest?

Write down 3 things that worked that day each evening. I started a section in my iCal calendar that contains this and I spend one minute each night doing it. This is an exercise from Marty Seligman, the founder of positive psychology. It works.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

There are many things I'd like to change about myself, I'd like to become more flexible (and have become better at that during the paste years), shy away from confrontations less and be overall gutsier. And I'd very much love to have a better memory.

Do you believe that happiness can be created or increased artificially or do you believe that it is a natural state that must evolve independently?

With the help of Cognitive Therapy, I do believe that I can train my mind in the very same way I can train my body. By and large, the longer and harder I train, the better the results. Having said this, I do think the direct pursuit of happiness might be a somehow flawed concept. Creating a foundation where I have good relationships to other people, to my work and something that is bigger than myself and where happiness can arise from in between will likely be more successful.

What surprised you the most about the project – and the impact it had on your life?

That 20 minute of exercise had a bigger influence on the quality of my day then 40 minutes of meditation. I’m running every morning now. The difference in energy I have during the day that follows the run is palatable and improves my overall wellbeing.

So much of your happiness revolved around women. Work plays such a big role in your life and in the film, but that sense of work-driven euphoria was not as pronounced. Why do you think?

As mentioned before, a good definition of happiness divides this big term into three parts: No. 1 Short-term Happiness like a moment of bliss possibly lasting only seconds, No. 2 Mid-term Happiness like well-being and satisfaction lasting hours or days, No. 3 Long-term Happiness like finding what you are good for in life, which can last for years. Throughout the filming I rated my happiness levels daily: All periods of 10/10 days had something to do with falling in love, all 1/10 days were connected with a relationship ending. Falling in love in my case were connected to the No. 1 and No. 2 happiness, work related to No. 2/No. 3 types. You can get from this answer why some women in the film thought I was too rational. The film concentrated on falling in love, because that is what happened during the experiments. In some cases, the experiments themselves were somehow involved in the fact that love happened, I felt I was more attractive to Tania and Veza because I was involved in these experiments and making a film on happiness. I do believe that work and being involved in something that's bigger than myself are as important as relationships.

In the first segment you say (of fight with Tania): ’She cried, I’m just really sad’. Do you think that reflects how men and women deal with emotional turbulence respectively (keeping it in vs. letting it out)? And if so, do you think men are more or less happy than women because of that?

I actually don’t think this divides neatly down gender lines. And as I am a person who rather keeps it in, I cant say for sure if I’d be better or worse off if I’d let it out. Considering that Denmark and Switzerland always occupy the top positions when it comes to international happiness surveys, and I’d say both nations fall on the ‘keeping it in side’, maybe that is a more fruitful strategy.

What is your advice to others seeking happiness? And what is the greatest advice you have ever been given?

Stop concentrating on your own happiness and start looking out for the happiness of other people. My friend Marian told me.

Do you have any beliefs that haven’t changed over the years?

Yes, a whole lot of them:

  1. Helping other people helps me.
  2. Having guts always works out for me.
  3. Thinking that life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.
  4. Starting a charity is surprisingly easy.
  5. Being not truthful works against me.
  6. Everything I do always comes back to me.
  7. Assuming is stifling.
  8. Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
  9. Over time I get used to everything and start taking for granted.
  10. Money does not make me happy.
  11. Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
  12. Keeping a diary supports personal development.
  13. Trying to look good limits my life.
  14. Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
  15. Worrying solves nothing.
  16. Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
  17. Everybody thinks they are right.
  18. If I want to explore a new direction professionally, it is helpful to try it out for myself first.
  19. Low expectations are a good strategy.
  20. Everybody who is honest is interesting.
  21. Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.
  22. It is pretty much impossible to please everybody.
  23. Self-confidence produces fine results.
  24. Now is better.
  25. Make the first step.
  26. Actually doing the things I set out to do increases my overall level of satisfaction.
  27. Seek discomfort.
  28. There is no moral reason to have children.
  29. Feel others feel.
  30. Be more flexible.
  31. If I don’t ask I won't get.

We are noticing a rise in the popularity of ‘negative thinking’ as a route to happiness or simply an approach to life.

I spent my formative years in Vienna, where many embrace misery and think of anything related to happiness as either 'stupid' or 'American'. Many Viennese people belief that if you are intelligent you understand life and know how awful it is. One of my favorite Freud quotes reads: "All we can hope for in life is a transformation from total misery into common unhappiness". I prefer New York. I am unconvinced that ‘negative thinking’ will make people engage more with the world. I myself know that when I am doing well, I am not only more engaged but also of much better use to the rest of the world.


Which of the three strategies would you do again?

You took part in some interesting experiments during the film; did you find that any improved your ‘well being’? Which would you recommend?

There were times during meditation when I felt it REALLY working and thinking: "Why is not everybody doing this all the time?", and then there were times when I felt it difficult and boring. Overall it improved my life slightly, but not in a life altering way. We interviewed almost a hundred people engaged in meditation in Bali for the film, all of them said that it made them happier but I believed very few of them. At one point we included several of these interviews in the film, resulting in a sequence that made fun of them, which ultimately seemed not appropriate, as they were just normal people seeking for something they had not found yet. I would recommend cognitive therapy to anybody who does not like a certain character trait about themselves and wants to change it. This is actually possible with the help of a good therapist. I would recommend talking to at least 3-5 different therapists before settling on one; the quality differences between them are enormous. When we fix our house, we might get three different quotes from an electrician, so we should do that also in therapy. Drugs clearly worked for me (too much so), and I could say taking Lexapro again, but in a smaller dose. The reason I cant recommend it here whole-heartingly is that when I talked about happiness to audiences, numerous people came up to me afterwards confiding that they used Lexapro. And I have heard every possible outcome: It worked in the beginning but not later on, it worked later on but not in the beginning, it made them depressed or it changed their lives to the better. What our psycho-pharmacologist says in the film is true: The brain is such a complex system that at this point nobody really knows what the exact processes. From the many, many books I’ve read, I would recommend these three: Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness Richard Layard, Lessons from a new Science Reading these books will not make you happier (in the same way watching the Happy Film wont), but they are all helpful as a kick in your ass discovering your own strategy.

Would you do any of it again – meditation, therapy and/or drugs?

Yes, I can see trying all three again, in their own way they all worked. Surprisingly, about 8 months after the completion of the film, I actually became happier. I finally understood our scientific adviser Jonathan Haidt’s conclusion that happiness comes from in between: He thinks happiness can ensue if I manage to get the relationship to other people (lovers, friends, family) right, if I get the relationship to my work and the relationship to something that’s bigger than myself right. I had read this conclusion even before we started working on the film, I had heard him say it a number of times when we interviewed him and again dozens of times during the editing process. And curiously, I never really got it until the start of my third sabbatical in Mexico City when I was looking for a big new subject to work on and it immediately became clear to me that this will need to be an exploration of beauty, as it will mean that I have to be engaged with lots of people, work with lots of other designers, crafts people, curators and producers and the subject itself would certainly be bigger than me. The following months were amongst the happiest of my life.

Do you still keep ratings-lists?

I stopped rating my happiness on the day the Happy Film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. I still keep my weekly list, where I check if I live according to my goals. During weeks where I do well with my goals I am usually happier.


Why did you give talks on happiness?

Why did you give talks on happiness?

I started giving talks on design and happiness about 10 years ago, as it seemed it was a good filter to look at our work. Can we be happy as designers? Is it possible to design things that would make people happier? After we started working on the Happy Film, this evolved into a more general talk on Happiness. This talk was the major source of finance for the film, as I did get paid for these talks and the money flowed directly into the film. Of all the problems we had during the production, one common problem that we did not encounter was money, as whenever we ran out of it I could just go out and do more talks.

Have you ever found yourself in an absolutely wretched mood right before giving a talk on happiness, and, in the event of this, what would you do?

Whenever there is a speech in a Hollywood film, the speaker always changes it last minute unbeknownst to the audience. This promptly requires a slow clap by a single person, which goes up into a roar and that is the end of the movie; because it is just so fantastic that the speaker had the guts in the end to do something totally new and unexpected and different. I have never seen that happen in real life. I have seen only one designer give a totally spontaneous speech that was actually listenable, and I have seen many, many people give spontaneous speeches that were just terrible. So my guess would be—and I haven’t found myself in that terrible mood yet—but my guess would be that I would try to get through it as I’ve written it.


Where can I download it in my country?


Can I gift the Happy Film to other people?

Yes, you can. Just click on this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-happy-film/id1247822525

  • Click ‘View in iTunes'
  • Click the arrow to the right of the item's price
  • From the menu, choose Gift This [item type]
  • Enter your recipient's email address
  • If you want, add a message

Can I organize a screening?

Yes! We are working with Simple Cinema, which makes this process as easy as possible. Juts click on this link: http://www.simplecinemafilms.com/the_happy_film