Sunday 5 July 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

I've been working recently with Paul Bennun, doing research commissioned by C4 Education to map the ballpark of happiness and mental health in teenagers. Quite a big map then... and we only had 5 weeks from a standing start. The final week and write-up gave me PhD flashbacks. The research was planned to feed proposals to C4 from the independent production community (and unfortunately can't be made public). It was an extremely rewarding and interesting process. My current favourite kernel is from a study described in Out Of The Woods: Tales of Resilient Teens. They followed 60-odd people who'd been sectioned in a US institute as teenagers. They'd all come from troubled backgrounds, and after release most of them continued to have difficult lives. But a few of them turned things around, and the research focused on why, what made them resilient. They all told good stories about their lives. Good stories in that they'd faced up to challenges, found new opportunities and relationships, taken action to make things better. But also they told their stories well to sharpen these same advantages. I'm fascinated by the resonance with (what I understand of) narrative improvisation and how to tell all stories well, action not gossip, be the hero, remain open and responsive to the present moment, etc.

I did a Peachy Coochy recently for Tipping Point about climate change. I pulled in some nuggets of happiness psychology, looking at time and procrastination, and how they might impact on why we find it hard to do the right things against impending climate change. Genuinely interesting (for me at least...) There is more to pursue here.

By the by, learnt a neat neverending game from a group of Exeter teens: Jazzhands. Yell Jazzhands and do the move. Everyone else follows suit. Whoever's last, loses. Repeat on whim.


Unknown said...

Hey ya. Another Repeat On Whim game I've enjoyed very much recently.... If you 'perform' the Vulcan Death Grip on any other player they must immediately stop what they are doing/speaking about and become 'unconscious'. Very funny. There are some peripheral rules if you're driving, or operating heavy machinery, or on stage in front of a paying audience of course but you get the drift. You are now a player....

snoopfish x

TS said...

I've tried to play that on/with you on numerous occasions. Usually when you're talking. Does that count?