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Beyond Happiness

Leo Johnson ends a year-long journey exploring radically different philosophies of happiness. What if happiness isn’t about the self at all?

Are we pursuing happiness, or is the happiness industry pursuing us? And if our model of hedonism isn't working, how do we hack our happiness back? Leo Johnson goes on a year-long journey to pick up life lessons of happiness from modern day practitioners of radically different philosophies.

It's a journey that takes us from Yorkshire's anti-fracking grannies to the slow footballing Vietnamese monks of Plum Village, from self-cutting poets to the Chief Happiness Officers Convention in Paris, from London's asexual community to multi-orgasmic Swedish academics, and from World Champion Muay Thai women kick-boxers to Elvis-loving dementia sufferers.

What emerges is a set of starkly competing visions of the good life - ancient philosophies still duking it out to get punched in as the destination in our psychic Sat Navs.

What we meet is a set of individuals who have questioned the default comforts of the IKEA catalogue, defined the shape of the self, and chosen lives that give us a glimpse of how each of us can reclaim peace, reclaim purpose, reclaim pain, and reclaim pleasure - the real pleasure that hedonism promised.

Episode 4: Beyond Happiness
What if happiness isn't about the self at all?

This final programme in the series features environmentalist Eddie Thornton and members of the Kirby Misperton anti-fracking community in Yorkshire, the Breathing Space group for those with dementia and their carers at Hoot Creative Arts in Huddersfield and author, neuroscientist and pleasure supremo, Professor Morten Kringelbach, Fellow of The Queens College, Oxford and founder of the Hedonia Research Group.

A Reel Soul Movies production for BBC Radio 4

Photo: Breathing Space group at Hoot Creative Arts. Copyright Hoot Creative Arts.

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14 minutes