Corridor conversations – or in this case – late night bar conversations are exactly why you come to events like the Interrogate Festival (#intfest). . Started in 2011 the festival brings together the arts and social justice teams of Dartington together with regional, national and international expertise to explore a key issue.
Last year was social justice….
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This year the issue is Happiness
Happiness has got to be a good thing right? If we’re all happier surely that makes the world a better place?
Enter the man introduced to me as the ‘alternative view’ – the grumpy git if you like (though he doesn’t seem grumpy to me!). However as if to prove a point he’s had a nightmare journey arriving (thankfully) just in time for last orders.
This is Andy Gibson Head Gardener of @mindapples (www.mindapples.org ) and this grumpy thing has got me interested. The traditional view – Gibson argues – is that society doesn’t value happiness and that science knows the answer. I agree with the first point (he goes on) but have serious problems with the second.
We digress …I go to the bar…before Gibson goes back to the point. He’s talking about a book by the architect Christopher Alexander who argues that societies who ‘teach’ lean towards facisim – those who learn tend towards freedom.
So if science doesn’t have the answer who does? ( I realise I’m making a leap there – but bear with me – I’d had a glass of wine…or two) The answer – Gibson argues is simple – we do. Each and everyone of us. That’s why Mind Apples tag line is ‘what’s the 5-a-day for your mind? Not about telling you how to be happier but understanding (and sharing) what makes you happy.
Learning how we work as unique individuals is the key to our own freedom (whatever our context apparently, the academics tell us we control 40% of our state of mind and later Mark Williamson would argue happiness comes when you are at peace with yourself). It’s a simple three stage process ….personal reflection leading to identifying the five things which positively help our minds then sharing that learning.
Ok so whether this really is a dissenting voice to the happiness agenda is slightly questionable (it’s is a little bit like the peoples front of the Judeah says Gibson – ) – which is the only excuse I need to drop in a bit of Monty Python..
A lot of hot air?
I guess that’s what Interrogate has set itself the task of finding out!
Happiness – the Interrogate Festival at Dartington – runs from the 13 October-14 October. Follow the debate on #intfest or tune into The Shed Lectures at http://www.interrogate.org.uk (where you can also find other information about the festival – programmed by Dartington in association with http://www.thehubuk.com and action for happiness. the festival includes 3 premieres from Jason Singh, Emma Bennett and Julian Fox as part of a new / @phrandconfused programme