Happiness for Beginners summary and ending explained

In Happiness for Beginners, recently divorced Helen goes on a hiking trip to reset her life and finds what she is missing in herself. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

Helen and Mike have recently divorced. Helen’s brother, Duncan, and his best friend, Jake, had told her at her wedding that he is not right for her, but she still decided to go ahead with the decision, which landed her here.

They are divorced but still clinging to each other. Helen plans to set things right for herself by going on a hiking trip. She has certain goals that she aims to achieve on this trip.

First of all, she looks forward to forming a deeper connection with nature. Second, she plans to rise up from her own ashes like a phoenix, and lastly, she is aiming to earn a certificate.

At a party the day before the trip, Jake talks to Helen and lets her know that she used to be fun. Helen defends herself by claiming that she is still fun.

The more everyone questions her about whether she is ready to go on this hike, the more determined Helen becomes. The next day, after handing her house keys to Duncan and visiting her grandmother, Gigi, Helen heads out.

Helen meets the people who are going to join her on this trip. Beckett is their hiking guide and instructor.

Joining Helen are Windy, who took this course because her brother told her to; Hugh, an aspiring actor; Mason, an experienced hiker who is here just to practice; Sue, who is here to deepen her connection with spirituality; and lastly, Kaylee, who is here to face her fear of the woods.

Helen is shocked to find Jake joining the same hiking trip. She first suspects that Duncan has sent Jake to look after her. Jake assures her that he enrolled for this way back.

Helen leaves a bad impression on Beckett by forgetting the shoes they sent for hiking at home. She continues to make several mistakes during the trip. Meanwhile, Jake, who used to work as a doctor, impresses everyone with his skills.

The group learns a lot about hiking, nature, and each other’s purpose behind going on this trip. Windy develops a crush on Jake. Helen, on the other hand, keeps getting annoyed by him.

Helen eventually confronts Jake for staring at her constantly. Jake then speaks his heart out and lets her know that she was too good for Mike.

Things get nasty when Beckett tries to bring the best out of his group by splitting them between the slower ones and the faster ones. Helen learns that Jake didn’t sign up for this trip weeks ago, and Hugh gets severely injured.

Mason, because he constantly tried to work alone, is sent with Hugh’s group, but he goes blank when it comes to aiding an injured Hugh, even though he is experienced. It’s Helen who takes charge and comforts Hugh. She tasks her group to set up a camp and leaves to find their other group.

Helen, who had been making mistakes all this while, manages to find her way to the other group back at the camp. Since it’s dark, Beckett suggests they take a good night’s sleep and remember their loved ones, as tomorrow might be a hard day with what must have happened to Hugh.

During this night, Helen and Jake come closer as they talk about the one person who gives them strength. While Helen acts like a jealous girlfriend because Jake kissed Windy during a Truth or Dare game, Jake acts like a jealous boyfriend by calling Helen out for clinging to her ex-husband.

Happiness for Beginners ending explained in detail:

What happens to Hugh?

The next day, Beckett makes Helen their navigator for being responsible when Hugh was injured and their group needed a leader. Helen’s group finds Hugh and everyone else.

Hugh is still severely injured and needs to be picked up. Hence, while one group heads back to the camp, the second takes Hugh to the location where an ambulance will come to pick him up.

Before leaving, Hugh advises Helen to get together with Jake, as he noticed the tension between them; if she wants to reset, she should reset with him. The trip continues without Hugh. Everyone realizes something about themselves.

What is up with Jake?

At night, Jake goes missing, and Helen looks for him. Jake had brought two glasses with him. He had explained that he is farsighted. When Helen finds Jake, he is scared because he lost his glasses.

Jake was not able to find his way back to the camp after losing them. Jake then confesses that he has a genetic condition. He is losing his eyesight. That explains why he stopped being a doctor. Helen comforts a lost Jake, and the two almost make out.

Do Helen and Jake end up together?

After paying their respects to Mother Nature, the group returns to the city. Hugh ends up winning the certificate, but Helen has changed; she is happy with it. The group makes sure that Helen is named the winner of this certificate too.

While Helen watches Windy make moves on Jake, Mason lets her know that Jake has someone waiting for him back home. Helen reads a letter she finds in her backpack once she is back from the trip. It’s a poem by Jake.

Gigi notices Helen has changed. At the same time, she is in love, no matter how much she denies it. Helen keeps looking for Jake whenever her brother, Duncan, is around.

At Gigi and her boyfriend’s party, Jake shows up and is upfront about his feelings for Helen. He admits he acted like a jealous boyfriend because he wanted to be her boyfriend for a long time.

Jake hopes she will consider his proposal, knowing the challenges they will face. Helen makes out with Jake, and they officially start dating.


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