Park City Institute Main Stage offerings start with happiness
Board member hopes Arthur Brooks presentation will set the tone for the season
Park City Institute and the Cook Center for Human Connection Presents Arthur Brooks
- When: 7:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 8
- Where: Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
- Web: parkcityinstitute.org
Arthur C. Brooks, a professor of management practice at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches courses on leadership and happiness, will kick off the Park City Institute’s 2023-24 Main Stage Winter Series on Wednesday, Nov. 8, and Moe Hickey hopes that evening’s discussion will set the tone for rest of the season.
“Art and culture is so important to a small town,” said Hickey, who is on the institute’s board of directors. “Yes, we can become a destination resort town and not have any arts, but I don’t know if that would make it a place that is livable or attractive to live here. So, having someone like him from the national level to come here and have this conversation is not a small event.”
Brooks is a Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.
He is also the author of 13 books, including the No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, “From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life,” and “Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier,” which he wrote with Oprah Winfrey.
In addition, Brooks speaks around the world about human happiness, and with companies, universities and other public organizations to raise well-being, Hickey said.
“Arthur Brooks talks about that, and he talks about happiness in general and how to get there,” said Hickey. “And I think we’re at a crucial time in our national and state dialog where we have to start looking at how to facilitate better discourse about how we can build stronger relationships and look at what we need to do as a society to ensure happiness.”
Hickey believes true happiness is undervalued in the United States.
“My wife, who is a psychiatrist, asked me one day if I was happy, and I really had to think about that,” he said. “In order to become really happy, we need to provide people with a good quality of life. It’s hard to be happy when you’re experiencing poverty. It’s hard to be happy when you’re homeless.”
While those things may be essential to happiness, other things that Americans have come to rely on aren’t, Hickey said.
“I just got back from a visit to Bhutan, and they measure what is called Gross Domestic Happiness,” he said.
GDH is a philosophy that Bhutan’s government relies on for guidance, according to Hickey.
“Bhutan made a conscious effort in the 1990s to address and establish this,” he said. “(The leaders) made choices that brought home to me the idea that you might have to sacrifice in some cases to achieve that better goal.”
One example is the country’s lack of manufacturing, Hickey said.
“Ironically, Bhutan grows tremendous apples, but they send them away to be processed into apple juice, and they buy the juice back,” he said. “They do this because the people believe in the natural environment, and Bhutan is the first carbon-negative country in the world. They might sell their apples at a lower price than if they were to process them themselves, but they aren’t polluting their own natural resources.”
In addition, Bhutan’s land is home for a vast amount of precious and uncut gems — mostly rubies and diamonds, Hickey said.
“They are in the ground all over, but the King of Bhutan has declared they can’t be mined,” he said. “And that ties into what Arthur talks about in his books. He says in order to find happiness, you have to make conscious choices all the time.”
This message is important, even to a town like Park City, Hickey said.
“I think we have gotten away from what has made Park City special in the past — the feeling of community, the feeling of relationships — when people would walk down the street and see people they know on a regular basis,” he said. “I hope this event will help continue or at least start a dialog, and I hope it’s not just a one-night conversation on stage and we don’t do anything with it. There are plenty of opportunities to make this town a stronger community.”
The Park City Institute is partnering with the Cook Center for Human Connection, a nonprofit that strives to prevent suicide through mental health support and enhanced human connections.
“Anne Brown, who is a local resident, is the president and chief executive officer of the organization, and she reached out to the Park City Institute with the idea of co-sponsoring the show at the Eccles Center.” Hickey said.
Although Brown wasn’t available for comment, Hickey said the invitation made sense, because the Park City Institute wanted to start expanding its speaker programming.
“I think the speaker series has resonated with some people in Park City, because whenever we have speakers, especially nationally recognized speakers, there is tremendous turnout and support,” he said. “We want to continue that, so when there was an opportunity to bring in someone like Arthur Brooks, we wanted to take advantage of it.”
Santa Claus returns to the Park City Ice Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. for the annual Santa Skate! Don’t forget to bring your ski or bike helmet to wear while you’re on the ice. Complimentary skating and rentals.
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