The Great Aha! : The Secret of Happiness

‘The Great Aha!’ is for positive psychology enthusiasts, who are tired of the superficiality and clichés regarding our mental well-being.

It is a philosophical self-help documentary, which goes deep into the structure of lasting happiness, and the impact this idea has upon our culture.

Unlike other feature documentaries – like ‘Happy’, ‘The Secret’ or ‘I Am’ – ‘The Great Aha!’ unmasks the limiting worldviews that rob us of happiness, and it explores the time tested science for how to find lasting fulfillment.

'The Great Aha!' explores the source of all our motivations and what is the cornerstone of our democratic ideals, happiness.

Just what is happiness? How does our pursuit of happiness drive our personal choices - our ethics, our economics and our ecological choices?

And why is it that amidst the most plentiful and liberal time to experience happiness, we witness ever-rising levels of psychological depression?

When a near-fatal car accident raised questions of personal meaning and mortality, the filmmaker John Angheli takes on the legendary 40-day rite-of-passage out in the wilderness, where through sustained solitude, stillness, and starvation, he attempts to crack the code.

For 40 days and 40 nights, out in the heart of Tasmania, together with three of the world’s best thinkers on the subject from the Age of Enlightenment, John attempts to re-imagine the subject anew.

  • John Angheli
  • John Angheli
  • John Angheli
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Feature
  • Runtime:
    2 hours 12 minutes 25 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 19, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, Denmark, Germany, Romania, Switzerland
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Victoria University
Director Biography - John Angheli

John’s undergraduate specialized in Architecture and was followed by three master's degrees - in Business, Education, and Philosophy.

John went on to lecture in higher education and to coach executives on creativity and leadership. John currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife Christie and is the father of three young boys.

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Director Statement

The curious structure that this documentary adopted was not something I planned for, but something that evolved over the slow years of its production.

The original idea began while sitting on the side of the freeway, awaiting a tow, following a near-fatal car accident…

Afraid of my lack of life meaning and direction, I decided then and there to go out into the wilderness and try out that famous rite of passage that reportedly most of the greatest sages in history all undertook – to spend 40 days out in the wild, to deeply think.

While at it, I thought to also film this journey, as to document on camera what happens in the process. It wasn't meant to be anything more than clips for a few blog posts, (if it came to be) and more important, to keep a video diary about the experience.

But things evolved from there. Through a chance encounter with a cinematographer a couple of years after, and talking about the notes that I made while out in the wild, I was inspired to turn this into a film and to also showcase the three central philosophers, through the exposition.

The exposition segments are to provide the viewer with greater clarity and insight, through direct reflection upon their works. It's not an academic treatise on the subject, or accurate to the philosopher's view, but essentially what I understood and what they inspired within me...

These segments were filmed throughout Copenhagen, Berlin, Geneva, Melbourne, and Sydney.

Ultimately, the purpose of the movie is to re-imagine the subject of happiness in a fresh light. I hope we hit the mark.