Bring the Happy
‘Bring the Happy’ is a collaboration between the band, ‘Hope & Social’ and ‘Invisible Flock’, an interactive arts company from Leeds. For over 2 years Invisible Flock have been collecting memories of happiness from people around the UK. First, they set up a base in an empty shop in the town centre and invite passers-by to share a happy memory on the basis of ‘what it was, where it took place, and how happy it made them on a score of 1-10’. Each memory is then marked onto a huge map of the town with its own 3-D rod, the height of which is based on its 1-10 rating. Later these memories become the basis of a part spoken, part musical performance written and performed by members of Invisible Flock and Hope & Social as the ‘Bring the Happy’ event.
Positive Psychologists will not be surprised to learn that less than 1% of the collected happy memories are about material things but about meaningful relationships with friends and family and the positive emotions of hope, gratitude and love. Of course, some of the memories are tinged with sadness but love and connection is the common theme. When software was used to analyse the most frequently used words, top of the list was the word ‘home’.
The show illustrates how people are defined by the places they live and the importance of belonging. The atmosphere is often thick with nostalgia and songs include some dedicated to all the babies who have been born, tales of drink and drug-fuelled escapades and wistful tunes about places and communities that have changed over time.
Serotonin is often referred to as ‘the happiness hormone’ and people with low levels may experience feelings of low mood and depression. The good news is that it is possible to boost our serotonin production and one effective way is by engaging with our happy and pleasant memories from the past. So, whether the biological implications are realised or not, ‘Bring the Happy’ is likely to help participants to ‘feel the happy’ too. What would your happy memory be?