Byron Vincent wants to be happy but as a lifelong cynic, he’s worried that he’s been hindering himself. What if the casually jaded outlook adopted by Byron and his peers is a barrier that prevents them from leading happy lives? What if his joyless atheism and acceptance of the scientific assertions of human purposelessness are acting as a prophylactic to true and sustained contentment? What if there are ways to be happy, but arrogance and misguided thinking have prevented him from recognising them?
But what is happiness and how do we achieve it? Should we trust the Biologists or the Buddhists? Is our happiness determined by our wealth, success or relationships? Biologists don’t think so. They would argue that it is solely determined by a complex system of neurons, synapses and biochemical events. According to biologists nobody is ever made happy by finding true love, becoming rich or having spiritual faith. They argue that the only thing that truly makes us happy is merely physical sensation. If our happiness is really determined by our biochemical systems; then no spiritual epiphany, increase in wealth or social advancement will make us as happy as we hope to be.
But Byron is ready to open his heart and mind and experience all those things he’s previously scoffed at. From sustained spiritual practice to extreme hedonism, he’ll be undergoing some of the most profound and intense experiences known to humanity, all with full commitment and no prejudice.
Collaborating with scientists and well-being experts, Byron will measure his efforts throughout with neuroimaging technology and the Happiness Equation; a formula published this year by University College London scientists reportedly holding the key to momentary happiness.
Through storytelling, recorded footage and experiential interactivity, Byron will then give you an honest account of his findings with the hope he can give you a leg up too. Join him in his quest to pursue the holy grail of human contentment and make the world a happier place – or at least humour him and let him try.
greenhouse is supporting a week’s research and development residency at Letchworth Arts Centre; discussions, experiments, workshops and scratch performances with well being and meditation groups as well as members of the general public.