Faces of the American Male Wound Documentary
Happiness Theory:

  1. Loneliness is created when we believe no one sees who we are. When we perceive that we are interacting with someone who sees a mask, rather than the self that we experience, we can feel even more separate, particularly when it appears that the person spending time with us does not know they are interacting with a mask.
  2. Our culture has no ritual for grief, no location to show pain, and no opportunity to honor loneliness. This insures invisibility in this face of who we are.
  3. One of the experiences that adds weight to our pain is feeling that we are alone and perhaps the only one to feel pain.
  4. In this context, being seen, being honored, and sharing the wound with others is liberating, heals isolation and depersonalizes the wound. It stops being "my pain," which can be too heavy to carry, and becomes "our pain," with the implicit understanding that we are not in pain because we are fundamentally flawed, but because there are flaws in the culture and systems that led us to be who we are.
  5. Enacting the pain physiologically with sound and movement helps to take it out of our head and into our body, where it can then be worked with - released.
  6. The ritual of giving back the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that cause us pain to the culture and people who gave it to us is a way of not shaming ourselves for our pain, and recognizing our power not to stay infected with the mental/emotional viruses that haunt us.
  7. The process of speaking and being heard can lead to empathy, completion and an ability to release pain and make room for healthy emotions.

This is a well-being hypothesis to be experimented with and learned from. 

To participate (3-5 hour project):

  1. Create a mask. I made mine from this selection of blank masks:  http://a.co/5VGoPAE
  2. Write down 10 thoughts, messages, beliefs in the culture that cause you pain. Print these out.
  3. Use your phone or best camera and do a shoot test. I often have mine facing me so I can see how I am in frame. Learn more on this or other videos if need be:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpZvc8vtHvo&t=3s
  4. Download dropbox on your phone (app store) or laptop from this link:  https://www.dropbox.com/install
  5. After you make your video, upload it to dropbox, then share and send me the link to your video or folder of content:  https://youtu.be/f27A-RT6lEg
  6. Here is the package that I use to film many of my videos:


7. Test your set-up with one video uploaded to drop-box and shared that you are satisfied with (I can't offer more technical input but youtube and testing can help you work out the bugs).

Here is the process to film:

  • The painting/making of the mask with silence or any sounds/feelings you might want to express.
  • The putting on of the mask: In your own words: "This mask represents a face of pain shared by American men."
  • In your own words: "This is my personal experience of pain as an American man:" (Now read your list, commenting on it as you go if you want to.
  • In your own words (you are also welcome to use mine): "This is the pain that was given to me by culture." (Now remove the mask).
  • "It is not who I am."
  • It is my wish to live in a world where.... (talk about a world that feels healthy and supportive of who you want to be)
  • It is my wish to be a man who... (talk about the qualities that reflect the man you prefer to be - feel free to do this spontaneously or make a list to read).

Notes: This can be easy or hard, based on experience. You can send in your first recording or make many recordings until you feel comfortable. There is no right way. It can take hundreds of hours of practice to be fully comfortable in front of a camera and hundreds of hours to be comfortable talking about vulnerable topics, which means this project is courageous to one degree or another for every American man. It is an expression of self-valuing of your emotional felt-experience in a culture that gives the message: What you feel has little or no value. 

Uses of the material: 

  1. This ritual has good odds of helping you grow in self-awareness regardless of anyone else ever seeing it. Honor yourself. Do it for you.
  2. I will watch your material and honor your courage as soon as you make it. Send the link to your dropbox file to dane at (use the @ sign) happinessdata.org.
  3. When seven or more men post their material to me, I will begin work on editing them into a short documentary. If you have editing experience and want to help with this side of things let me know.
  4. It will be freely available on youtube and on www.happinessdata.org and anywhere I think it will be medicinal for men.
  5. It is my intention to track the level of well-being these projects generate, since that is the scientific part of understanding what increases our levels of well-being.

Dane's personal project along these lines:

Faces Of the Wound:

  1. No empathy or engagement around childhood trauma.
  2. As I developed a learning disability in response to PTSD, I was asked to carry the shame of that.
  3. As I developed fear of other people, I was asked to be responsible for that.
  4. When I developed coping strategies, these were considered strange, rather than understood.
  5. My therapists did not understand trauma and I felt like a failure.
  6. Women online did not honor my needs and pretended I did not exist.
  7. I witnessed the people who were most sensitive and needed the most help being shamed and bullied.
  8. My government ignored my needs, feelings and their impact.
  9. I have gotten the message that it's my job to fix the culture's problems as if they were my problems.
  10. No one wants to hear, see or know the pain this creates. Therapists charge money to listen to it. Then I'm called "strange" for being bothered by this.

My feelings about this: Grief, anger, hatred, bitterness, sadness, fear and pain.

A world that I want to live in:

  1. One where we each make a commitment to every citizen that we as a country and community will help them meet their basic human needs.
  2. A world where every person is regularly asked how they are doing in terms of Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs.
  3. A world where leaders are assessed by the level of well-being of the people they lead using app-technology.

Who I want to be:

  1. Emotional, real and relaxed as I listen to and share deeper thoughts and feelings.
  2. Empowered to have my talents used to create well-being.
  3. Someone who supports others and myself in climbing the Hierarchy of Human Needs.
  4. An inventor of new cultural designs.
  5. Able to deeply feel and express the full range of human emotions. 

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