ARTE.TV – TUESDAY AUGUST 30 AT 8:50 P.M. – DOCUMENTARY
“Smile at life and life will smile at you. » What if following this type of aphorism to the letter was the key to achieving happiness? For fans of “personal development” the answer is self-evident. In his critical and very enlightening documentary The Business of HappinessJean-Christophe Ribot investigates, through testimonies and a historical approach, these sometimes perverse practices, yet another avatar of an individualistic society where the cult of optimism and the quest for happiness become an almost unhealthy obsession.
Three billion euros per year is what the personal development market weighs in the world. Books, seminars, schools of well-being, success is no longer in doubt. The film shows how these so-called curative methods are especially lucrative for those who offer them. To attend a seminar by Anthony Robbins, personal development guru in the United States, you have to pay between 6,000 and 8,000 euros. “Are people going to come out with ideas that will make them happier or ideas that will destroy their lives? »wonders the psychiatrist Christophe André.
Concretely, these “coaches” try to boost the psyche with ready-made phrases. Positive psychology tends to affirm that the solution to our ills depends solely on personal initiative, brushing aside any collective action. “This system says something violent: everyone has their own resources to succeed, but if some don’t succeed in the end, it’s their own individual responsibility”criticizes the sociologist Nicolas Marquis.
Particularly dense, The Business of Happiness reveals, in a very instructive way, the historical evolution of this trend. Its origins are disconcerting: the quest for happiness was spelled out in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of July 4, 1776! The absolute search for personal fulfillment has gradually led to a form of happiness conditioning. One in six Americans now say they take pills to regulate their emotions.
In search of legitimacy, positive psychology has become a discipline in its own right in American university research, thanks in particular to researcher Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, who theorized it in 1998. Since then, it has spread, in particular in Europe, through company management, with the creation of the “Happiness manager” job.
From school, with the implementation of positive education techniques, to the world of work without forgetting that of politics, personal development is now invading all aspects of our society. Will we soon have a Minister of Happiness?
The Business of Happinessby Jean-Christophe Ribot (Fr., 2022, 88 min).