This Emotional Life
– New Documentary, This Emotional Life, Examines Whether Americans Can Be Happier –
On the eve of a new year, as millions of Americans struggle to find more meaning in their lives, Vulcan Productions and NOVA/WGBH have teamed with Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness, Professor Daniel Gilbert, to produce This Emotional Life. This three-part documentary examines why people find happiness to be such an elusive goal.
This Emotional Life unfolds across three, two-hour episodes, exploring the nature of the social relationships that are the key to our human happiness (Family, Friends & Lovers); the obstacles to happiness, negative emotions, which we can’t live with and can’t live without (Facing Our Fears); and the sometimes misguided pursuit of happiness itself (Rethinking Happiness). The programs are produced by Kunhardt McGee Productions. Each episode weaves together the compelling personal stories of ordinary people and the latest in brain science research, along with revealing comments from celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Larry David, Elizabeth Gilbert, Alanis Morissette, Katie Couric and Richard Gere.
Professor Gilbert, whose research examines why people so often mispredict what will make them happy, says, “Science has revealed three important facts about happiness: You can’t be happy alone; you can’t be happy all the time; you can be happier than you are. Our three shows examine each of these three facts.”
The three episodes trace our relationships and what science reveals about them beginning with our very first one, the parent-child relationship, and how our connections to others impact our happiness. Below are descriptions of This Emotional Life’s three episodes:
Episode 1: Family, Friends & Lovers (January 4)
The first episode looks at the importance of relationships and why they are central to our emotional well-being. What are the cognitive and neurological processes underpinning our everyday interactions, and can they help us to understand why some relationships flourish and others fail? We meet a young boy adopted from a Russian orphanage, whose story illustrates how a lack of attachment in infancy fundamentally shapes his ability to build relationships for years to come. We meet the young parents of newborn twins; a couple in therapy for a troubled marriage; a teenager who was bullied with tragic consequences; two women grappling with the stress of workplace conflicts; and other characters — all to better understand the importance of social connections and relationships.
Episode 2: Facing Our Fears (January 5)
Episode 3: Rethinking Happiness (January 6)
Visit the website at www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife.
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