All three parts delve into the most current scientific research on happiness and incorporate the thoughts and experiences of celebrities like Katie Couric, Richard Gere, and Chevy Chase, as well as the compelling stories of ordinary people, like the Ross family.
The first pillar of the documentary, that you can't be happy alone, hits home with Jason Ross. "As scientists now know," Gilbert says, "social relationships, more than any other factor, are the key to human happiness." Due to his condition, Jason is unable to read emotions in others, and has had to struggle throughout his life to recognize the social cues that most of us know inherently, and take for granted. During his childhood, Lois worked with Jason constantly, enrolling him in playgroups and school organizations and role playing with him to teach him basic social interactions. Still, it was nearly impossible for Jason to establish any friendships - outside of his family - for most of his life.
Weaving together science and human experience, the series takes an in-depth look at how Jason and others - some of whom are struggling with depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other afflictions - have pursued a productive life, and happiness, despite the obstacles they've encountered along the way. In the end, they each serve as a testament to the documentary's third pillar, that you can be happier than you are.
"Finding a consensual definition of happiness is not easy, but people can tell you how happy they are, whatever that means to them," Gilbert says. "We all use the word happiness, but people define it within themselves."
"This Emotional Life" will air as a three-part series on PBS Jan. 4-6, 2010, at 9pm. Visit the show's Web site, www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife, for more information along with blogs, discussions, and insight from the experts.
Click here for a video preview of the documentary.
Click here to read about PBS' Early Childhood Attachment Toolkit Campaign, which will debut in conjunction with "This Emotional Life," and for 10 easy tips on how to connect with your baby.