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Happiness by Steve Cutts


Steve Cutts’ animated short film “Happiness” offers a poignant critique of modern society’s relentless pursuit of happiness through consumerism and materialism. Through its vivid and often unsettling imagery, the film illustrates the absurdity of seeking fulfillment in superficial and fleeting pleasures. This essay explores the lessons imparted by “Happiness” and the actions we can take to forge a more meaningful and contented life.

Overview of “Happiness”
“Happiness” portrays a rat race where anthropomorphic rats—representing humans—chase after various symbols of success and pleasure, such as money, luxury goods, and status. The film’s protagonist, a rat, navigates through a series of societal pressures and consumer traps, only to find himself in a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction. The narrative captures the essence of modern life’s emptiness when driven by materialistic pursuits.

Key Lessons from “Happiness”
1. The Illusion of Consumerism
Lesson: Consumerism creates an illusion of happiness that is fleeting and superficial. The film depicts how society encourages individuals to buy more, own more, and achieve more, equating these with happiness. However, this pursuit often leads to temporary satisfaction followed by a return to the initial state of dissatisfaction.

Action: To break free from this cycle, we need to adopt a more mindful approach to consumption. This involves:

Conscious Spending: Prioritizing purchases that add genuine value to our lives rather than succumbing to impulsive buying driven by marketing and social pressures.
Minimalism: Embracing minimalism by decluttering our lives and focusing on what truly matters, thus reducing the dependency on material possessions for happiness

2. The Pursuit of Status
Lesson: The film highlights the futility of chasing status and societal validation. The rats constantly strive to outdo one another, seeking validation through possessions and achievements, which only leads to a continuous cycle of competition and dissatisfaction.

Action: To combat this, we can:

Define Personal Success: Redefine success based on personal values and intrinsic goals rather than external validation. This could mean pursuing passions, building meaningful relationships, or contributing to the community.
Practice Gratitude: Regularly reflecting on and appreciating what we have can shift our focus from what we lack to what we value, fostering a sense of contentment.

3. The Importance of Mental and Emotional Well-being
Lesson: The relentless pursuit of materialistic goals often comes at the cost of mental and emotional well-being. The protagonist’s journey in “Happiness” is marked by stress, anxiety, and a lack of genuine joy, mirroring the mental health crisis prevalent in today’s society.

Action: Prioritizing mental and emotional health is crucial. Actions include:

Mindfulness and Meditation: Incorporating mindfulness practices and meditation into daily routines to reduce stress and enhance emotional resilience.
Seeking Help: Recognizing when to seek professional help for mental health issues and not shying away from therapy or counseling.

4. The Value of Authentic Connections
Lesson: The film underscores the emptiness of a life devoid of meaningful relationships. The protagonist is surrounded by crowds but is essentially alone, a common scenario in modern urban life where social connections are often superficial.

Action: Building and nurturing authentic connections can significantly enhance our well-being. Steps include:

Invest in Relationships: Dedicate time and effort to cultivate deep, meaningful relationships with family, friends, and community.
Community Engagement: Engage in community activities and volunteer work, which can provide a sense of belonging and purpose.

Practical Steps to Implement These Lessons
1. Conduct a Personal Audit

Assess your lifestyle, spending habits, and sources of happiness. Identify areas where you may be falling into the consumerism trap and make conscious efforts to reduce unnecessary expenditures.

2. Set Meaningful Goals
Establish goals that align with your values and passions. Focus on long-term fulfillment rather than short-term pleasures. Examples include learning a new skill, pursuing a hobby, or contributing to societal causes.

3. Develop Healthy Habits
Incorporate habits that promote well-being into your daily routine. This could include regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, practicing gratitude, and ensuring adequate sleep.

4. Limit Social Media and Advertising Exposure
Reduce exposure to social media and advertisements that often fuel the desire for material possessions and status. Use digital tools to limit screen time and focus on activities that bring genuine joy.

5. Foster a Growth Mindset
Adopt a growth mindset that values learning and personal development over material success. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and view failures as learning experiences.

6. Support Sustainable Practices
Make environmentally and socially conscious choices. Support businesses that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices. This not only contributes to personal satisfaction but also to the greater good.


Steve Cutts’ “Happiness” serves as a powerful reflection on the pitfalls of modern society’s relentless pursuit of materialistic success and superficial pleasures. By highlighting the emptiness of consumerism and the constant chase for status, the film urges viewers to reconsider their paths to happiness. To truly benefit from the lessons imparted by this film, we must be willing to take actionable steps towards a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Embracing Holistic Well-being
The pursuit of happiness should encompass multiple dimensions of life, including physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. By adopting a more holistic approach, we can create a more balanced and satisfying life.

Physical Well-being: Regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and adequate sleep are foundational to maintaining physical health, which is intrinsically linked to overall happiness.
Mental Well-being: Engaging in activities that stimulate the mind, such as reading, learning new skills, and practicing mindfulness, can enhance cognitive function and emotional resilience.
Emotional Well-being: Emotional health is supported by self-awareness, emotional regulation, and seeking support when needed. Practices like journaling and therapy can be beneficial.
Social Well-being: Building and maintaining strong social connections, participating in community activities, and fostering a sense of belonging are crucial for social well-being.

Rediscovering Joy in Simplicity

“Happiness” reminds us that true joy often lies in simple pleasures rather than grandiose achievements or possessions. Embracing simplicity can lead to a more contented and peaceful life.

Nature and Outdoors: Spending time in nature, whether through hiking, gardening, or simply enjoying a walk in the park, can have profound effects on our mood and well-being.
Creative Pursuits: Engaging in creative activities such as painting, writing, playing music, or crafting can provide a deep sense of fulfillment.
Mindful Living: Practicing mindfulness in daily activities—whether it’s savoring a meal, enjoying a conversation, or simply being present in the moment—can enhance our appreciation of everyday experiences.

Cultivating Inner Peace
Inner peace and contentment are often overlooked in the pursuit of external achievements. Fostering inner peace involves self-reflection, acceptance, and spiritual growth.

Meditation and Yoga: These practices can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote a sense of inner peace.
Spiritual Practices: Engaging in spiritual practices, whether through religion, philosophy, or personal beliefs, can provide a deeper sense of purpose and connection.
Self-Compassion: Practicing self-compassion involves being kind to oneself, especially in times of failure or difficulty, and recognizing one’s inherent worth.

Building a Supportive Environment
Creating an environment that supports well-being and happiness is crucial. This includes both our physical surroundings and the people we choose to spend time with.

Decluttering and Organization: A clean and organized living space can reduce stress and create a more conducive environment for relaxation and productivity.
Positive Relationships: Surrounding ourselves with supportive, positive, and inspiring people can greatly enhance our quality of life.
Healthy Boundaries: Setting healthy boundaries in personal and professional relationships helps protect our time, energy, and emotional well-being.

Continuous Learning and Growth
Life-long learning and personal growth are key components of sustained happiness. Embracing new challenges and opportunities for growth can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Education and Skills Development: Continuously seeking knowledge and developing new skills can boost confidence and open up new possibilities.
Personal Development: Engaging in self-improvement activities, such as attending workshops, reading self-help books, and seeking mentorship, can promote personal growth.
Reflection and Adaptation: Regularly reflecting on our experiences and being willing to adapt and change can help us navigate life’s challenges and seize opportunities for growth.
Final Thoughts
“Happiness” by Steve Cutts is more than just a critique of modern society; it is a call to action for each of us to reevaluate our paths to happiness. By learning from the film and taking concrete steps towards a more mindful, balanced, and fulfilling life, we can break free from the futile chase of consumerism and status. Embracing simplicity, fostering inner peace, building supportive environments, and committing to continuous growth are essential actions in our journey towards true happiness.

Ultimately, the pursuit of happiness is a deeply personal journey that requires introspection, courage, and a willingness to make meaningful changes. By aligning our lives with our core values and focusing on what truly matters, we can create a life that is not only successful but also deeply fulfilling and joyful.