What does it mean to live a happy life—one filled with meaning and satisfaction?
For a long time, we’ve been living as though the more material goods we attain, the happier we’ll become. The consumerist narrative is continuously promising us that wealth will protect us against a lifetime of worry. Wealth enables us to live comfortably, to dress fashionably, to travel and explore the world.
By the logic of the American Dream, our happiness is determined not by our individual passions or our relationships, but by our social status and our participation in the giant rat race of life. And while many of us know deep down that the key to happiness is not a fancy car or a new pair of shoes, our media makes it difficult to escape the pressure to chase this artificial and outdated ideal.
A Small Good Thing, a new documentary by director Pamela Tanner Boll (Born into Brothels), examines how the American Dream has come to the end of its promise. Instead, the film shows us that it is our relationships, our connections, and our sense of working together toward the greater good that bring us true happiness.
A Small Good Thing tells the stories of six people who are moving away from a philosophy of “more is better” and are instead living a New American Dream—one focused on a close connection to their bodies and health, to the natural world, and to the greater good. As the film’s subjects search for new ways to live with meaning and serve their community in the Berkshires, they address a plethora of issues, such as the power of arts education to empower youth; the links between food, the environment, and the well-being of our global community; and the role of yoga and mindful practices in caring for our mental health.
By drawing connections between happiness and a variety of fields, A Small Good Thing suggests that the building of a better world is fully within the scope of our personal passions and the relationships we share with one another. This film captures the lives of six individuals who have chosen to break away from the societal notion of “the good life,” thrusting the New American Dream and its truths about happiness, wellness, and success into our media.
Pamela and her team have decided to distribute A Small Good Thing through a unique platform that echoes the social movement illustrated in the film. This movie is meant to inspire conversations in our communities. If you catch this film in a theater, it’s because an individual or inspired community group has decided to screen it—and you can too. The film is available via screening licenses for anyone to use for fundraising, education, or just plain inspiration.
This film is not just entertainment; it’s meant to encourage communities to come together and discuss how to live happier and more connected lives.