Screen Savors: The hunt for happiness

Screen Savors The hunt

It may be a warm gun for the Beatles, but finding true happiness isn't easy. Sure, that bonus check's great, but before long you've frittered it away on groceries and bills. And a trip to Europe is nice, but once you come home you still have to grit your teeth when your boss gets on your case. Thankfully, there's help in the form of How to Be Happy In Six Lessons, hosted by former Bulldozer host Mickey Rosenthal and Prof. Yoram Yuval, who examine just what does make us happy. With a combination of nifty graphics, Rosenthal's intrepid interviewing and Yuval's classroom contributions, it's fun to hear and see what brings a smile to our face. While we only caught the end of the first episode - on money, in which a very wealthy man admitted his vast fortune proved worthless when his wife became critically ill and he couldn't save her - the second focused on work. With Rosenthal taking a seat in Yuval's classroom, we learned we spend 20 years of our about 80 years on the planet sleeping, four of them dreaming. We spend 10 years watching TV, almost two-and-a-half shopping, and sadly, only about four months of that total having sex, based on twice-a-week. Yikes. "I want to learn how to be happier; not hear statistics that depress me," cracked Rosenthal. We spend 15 years working, with Yuval revealing that studies say those who don't work are less happy. But Leslie and Oren, a couple who decided to chuck it all and cruise around the world in 2008, seemed to prove that wrong. "I understood something wasn't right," said Oren of his previous life, which led him to get divorced and eventually meet Leslie, who won him over by asking for beer when he offered coffee. "We didn't want the lives we had before," said Oren, "not a lawn, money, villa." While Leslie's three daughters have rejected the idea, Oren's two boys think it's great. "Does our happiness come first, or that of our kids?" asks Rosenthal rhetorically. "If he has fun, then we have fun," says one of Oren's boys. Noting a friend's father who had worked 40 years in a factory, retired, and then died of cancer a year later, Oren says: "I asked myself: Where's the fairness in that?" "The main thing is to dream and realize your dreams," Oren says. But does that fly in the face of the professor's statement that we need to work to be happy? "They've simply changed jobs," Yuval explains, adding that nine out of 10 US lottery winners kept working. "Those who work live longer, are less sick, less depressed and happier," says the professor. But then there's the other extreme: Dr. Ze'ev Gross, who Rosenthal can barely keep up with, considering all the jobs he has. As Gross shaves in the bathroom after his early morning workout, Rosenthal asks: "What do you see in the mirror?" "A happy man," Gross replies. Ten minutes later they're in Gross's plastic surgery clinic, then off to his family medicine clinic, to his office where he works as a lawyer doing mediation, and that's just the start. "While I'm reading them, you're completing another degree," jokes Rosenthal as he eyeballs Gross's impressive wall of certifications. And take heart: Gross's teachers also told his mother he wasn't realizing his potential. "I'm fulfilling myself and I'm happy. I enjoy life anew every moment," says Gross to the by now exhausted Rosenthal. "You're either a magician or a charlatan," jokes Rosenthal, who says Gross reminds him of "Speedy Gonzalez in the cartoons." But there's still other jobs throughout the day, and a late-night dance lesson with his wife, who says: "He floats high - I bring him back down to earth." That must be a tough job, lady, but hey, Gross only sleeps 2-4 hours a night. "It's 11 p.m., and I'm tired just looking at you," says Rosenthal. "The secret is the creativity" involved in his day, says Gross. "You didn't see me do anything that I didn't enjoy." The mix of Yuval's egghead approach and Rosenthal's dogged interviewing works nicely, and the program's use of clever graphics, like an on-screen blackboard to stress the important lessons, only adds to the enjoyment. At the end of the show, Yuval suggests you might have a problem with your work if you only do it for the money; dream about quitting; feel time stands still or your work seems insignificant. We advise signing up for all six lessons. How to Be Happy in Six Lessons airs Wednesday nights on Channel 2 at 10:15 p.m.