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This Emotional Life; Rethinking Happiness



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This Emotional Life
Rethinking Happiness
Program Number

TEMO 103

Series Description

Shown in 3 parts from January 4-6, 2010.

This series is an exploration of human emotions; how and why our brains produce them, how they can become exaggerated or misdirected, and -- if they do -- what we can do to regain control. A blend of cutting-edge science, storytelling and practical advice, "This Emotional Life" puts the human psyche under the microscope like never before; exploring the intimate interplay between our emotions and our relationships; focusing on negative emotions like anger, fear, grief, and sadness; and finally, a subject dear to all our hearts -- discovering how we can all lead happier, emotionally healthier lives. While the series draws heavily on the new "science of emotions," at its heart will be human stories and reflections on the human condition. Hosted by Daniel Gilbert.

This Emotional Life is a Co-Production of the NOVA/WGBH Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, Inc. A Film by Kunhardt McGee Productions. ©/™ 2009 WGBH Educational Foundation and Vulcan Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Series release date: 1/4/2010

Program Description

The last episode, Rethinking Happiness, explores happiness. It is so critical to our well-being, and, yet, it remains such an elusive goal for many of us.

We meet individuals facing major turning points in their lives — a job loss, a cancer diagnosis, the death of a child, an accident — as well as those facing more common struggles. We learn from the latest research that we often incorrectly predict what will bring us greater happiness, leading us to look for it in the wrong places.

As the study of behavior turns more toward positive emotions, we explore the latest research on the activities and qualities that foster them, such as meditation, compassion, forgiveness and altruism. We also share the remarkable stories of resilient individuals that scientists are studying to learn more about us all, including a man who overcame an abusive childhood to become a renowned surgeon and a Vietnam veteran who survived torture, solitary confinement and seven years as a POW, yet emerged emotionally unscathed. Understanding why some people have the ability to bounce back after disaster strikes, while others do not, sheds light on how all of us can lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

The film ends by coming full circle to the understanding that it is the quality of our relationships — with friends, family and the larger community — that ultimately defines our happiness.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Apsell, Paula (Series Producer)
Chicago: “This Emotional Life; Rethinking Happiness,” 12/16/2009, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 17, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_20CFEE2261A54F3D98698B7D62FB9A92.
MLA: “This Emotional Life; Rethinking Happiness.” 12/16/2009. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 17, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_20CFEE2261A54F3D98698B7D62FB9A92>.
APA: This Emotional Life; Rethinking Happiness. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_20CFEE2261A54F3D98698B7D62FB9A92
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