Film and club value happiness above money

Mostyka speaks about compassion. (Photo by Kyle Bennion)

Compassion was the key word of the night during the screening of the documentary “Happy” in the Library Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 3, sponsored by the TCNJ Circle of Compassion.

“We wanted something that could apply to college students, not too heavy,” said senior biology major Maria Mostyka, vice president of the TCNJ Circle of Compassion club. “The goal of the Circle of Compassion club is to promote compassion and thought into action.”

The film took its audience around the world to explore the different definitions of what it means to be happy. From a slum in India, to a housing community in Denmark, to a former debutante’s home in Texas, “Happy” portrayed the value of pursuing intrinsic pleasure in order to be happy, rather than cherishing materialistic extrinsic gratifications.

“I feel I am not poor, but the richest person,” said a rickshaw driver with little financial stability during a scene in Kolkata, India, as his child ran toward him with excitement at the end of every work day.

This intrinsic happiness was the documentary’s introduction to the progressive field of positive psychology. Statistics shown in the movie indicated that Americans are becoming richer, but not happier.

Research done by psychologists in the film recognized that there are three dominant structures of happiness: 10 percent class and status, 50 percent genetics and 40 percent intentional activities.

This means that individuals have a major role in being able to create their own happiness.

“Happiness manifests a lot in our relations,” said junior psychology major Amanda Fresnics, member of the Circle of Compassion club. “Humans crave bonding and connections.”

“Coming away to college, you are constantly surrounded by people. Why isn’t it like that all the time?” Fresnics said, concerning the high success rate of the community living in Denmark.

This theory of the human connection leading to happiness is supported by the newfound Japanese word depicted in the film, “Kar?shi.” In Japanese, this word translates into “death from overwork.” Kar?shi is a recent trend in the Japanese work environment.

“There needs to be a balance of work and play,” said Mostyka, opening up the discussion portion of the event. “I always used to study on my own, but now I study in groups. Little things as helping each other understand something makes you so much more content.”

Mostyka, vice president of the Circle of Compassion club, explained how the club’s task is to shift the mindset of students on happiness.

“Compassion is important for a full and successful life,” Mostyka said. “Especially for college students.”