Michaela and I have just watched the Ken Loach film ‘Happy go lucky’
If you have seen any of Loach’s other films, you will know roughly what to expect- beautifully filmed characterisations in intimate detail- with improvised scripts and wonderful acting. This film was no exception. Loach has this way of making you squirm uncomfortably, whilst you laugh indulgently, and in fully sympathy with the characters in all their very human flaws and failings. His films can be bleak, but somehow also kind, and life afirming.
This one follows the life of the main character- the wonderful Poppy, a teacher, whose niceness almost verges on the psychotic. But you come to love her even as you wince at her dizziness.
I heard Loach being interviewed about this film on release, along with a wider discussion about the nature of happiness, both as an individual, and in the collective. This is the source material for this film…
The research basis for the power of happiness is pretty compelling. Here is a quote from a BBC article which is well worth checking out.
According to Professor Diener the evidence suggests that happy people live longer than depressed people.”In one study, the difference was nine years between the happiest group and the unhappiest group, so that’s a huge effect. Cigarette smoking can knock a few years off your life, three years, if you really smoke a lot, six years.So nine years for happiness is a huge effect.”
Happiness seems to have almost magical properties. We have not got proof, but the science suggests it leads to long life, health, resilience and good performance.
Scientists work by comparing people’s reported happiness and a host of other factors such as age, sex, marital status, religion, health, income, unemployment and so on.
In survey after survey involving huge groups of people, significant correlations between happiness and some other factors are repeated. At the moment scientists cannot prove causation, whether for example people are healthy because they are happy, or whether people are happy because they are healthy. However, psychologists have been able to identify some very strong links.
Standard of living has increased dramatically and happiness has increased not at all
Professor Daniel Kahneman, University of Princeton.
There seems to be a strange truth in this research- if you are happy, if you set your life towards good and positive things- if you seek the good in people around you, and look to bring it out- if you spend time with your friends and love well- if you refuse to give up hope for the world around you, and choose to emphasise the good news rather than the bad.
These things will transform life. Even extend it.
This is not the same thing as living under the positive police, and is certainly no promise that you will not be hurt along the way.
So, lets all be Poppys. If not Polyannas.
It seems to me to have something of the Kingdom of God about it…
It is not easy for some of us mind.