I’m a big believer in following in the footsteps of successful people. One of my strategies for success and happiness is to find an appropriate mentor and learn from their victories – and their failures. There are many factors, environmental and biological that may effect our quality of life but if you’re like me, and tend to lean towards a “glass half-empty” mindset, you know that making the conscious choice to stay positive is one of the greatest tools we have to enjoy life to the fullest in the here and now.
This article by Justine van der Leun that appeared on AOL Health reinforces my belief that happiness is a skill that can improve with practice. Don’t take it from me, though. Take it from Matthieu Ricard – the man scientists say is the happiest person on Earth.
Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard claims you can practice your way to happiness, and he should know: After MRI scans showed that he experienced extreme levels of positive emotions and few negative ones, he became known as “the happiest man in the world.” Trained as a cell biologist in France, Ricard moved to the Himalayas in 1972 to study Buddhism. He’s now a translator, a photographer and the Dalai Lama’s French interpreter. His books — the proceeds of which go to 41 humanitarian projects in the remote Himalayas — include “The Monk and the Philosopher” (a dialogue with his father, a famed philosopher), “Happiness: a Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill,” and, most recently, “Why Meditate?” AOL Health spoke with Ricard about the cultivation of happiness, the benefits of altruism and how 30 silent minutes a day can change your life.
Do you think you’re the happiest man in the world?
It’s better than the unhappiest person in the world. It was a cover line on a Buddhist independent journal. Of course it’s cute, but it doesn’t rest on scientific evidence. I took part in some ongoing studies on compassion. It’s a jump to say my results mean that.
What is happiness?
Happiness is a way of being rather than an endless search for experiences. Pleasure is fine but depends on things that are subject to change: people, places, things. Something tastes good; fire warms you when you’re cold. But then this experience turns neutral or averse: Even the most beautiful music is unpleasant after 24 straight hours. But happiness is a more durable state. It’s a cluster of basic human qualities that nurture a state of fulfillment, flourishing, of appreciating your life. It’s inner freedom, inner strength, inner peace. These are the resources to deal with the struggles of life. The more you experience happiness, the deeper and more stable it becomes.