The Habits of Happiness

“All the joy the world contains has come through wishing happiness for others. All the misery the world contains has come from wanting pleasure for oneself.” 

SHANTIDEVA (685-763)

Sometimes referred to as ‘the happiest man in the world’, Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk and French interpreter for the Dalai Lama. Although trained in biochemistry, Matthieu Ricard left science behind and moved to the Himalayas to pursue happiness both at a basic human level and as a subject of inquiry. Achieving happiness, he says, requires the same kind of effort and mind training that any other serious pursuit involves.

There is great diversity in how people define happiness. To some it is the freshness of the present moment. To others it is a deep sense of well being that underlies all emotional states. There are those who don’t know what happiness is yet they seek it in their lives.Happiness is not a pleasure that is dependent on time, place or things. We very often look outside ourselves in our quest for happiness. When things go wrong, we try to fix the outer world when we should be looking inside ourselves. We have to learn that there are states of mind within ourselves that nourish and promote well-being. The more the negative feelings invade our minds, the more depressed we get. Ricard says that if you allow exterior circumstances to determine your state of mind, then of course you will suffer. You become like a sponge or a chameleon.

How, then, does one transform their mind? Behind every thought is simple awareness. This quality of consciousness gives us the possibility of change because emotions are fleeting. Examining our emotions closely, particularly destructive ones, helps us to discover its antidote. Meditation is one way to look within and consciously examine our emotions. It makes sense to train the mind as it can impact the quality of every instant of our lives.

Watch his TED talk here