Matthieu Ricard is a French biochemist turned Tibetan Buddhist monk. Neuroscientists have acclaimed the 67 year old as the happiest man in the world. He achieved this title after participating in a 12 year brain study by the University of Wisconsin. Ricard attributes his happiness to meditation on compassion. An attribute that is most significant given the Easter season (Eastertide). As we commence the holidays, I thought it would be most appropriate to offer some of his advice on how to be happy.
Stop making it all about you.
Too much time and energy is spent thinking about ourselves and how to make life better for ourselves. This is exhausting and stressful and eventually leads to unhappiness.
Ricard says, “If your mind is filled with benevolence, you know- the passion and solidarity..this is a very healthy state of mind that is conducive to flourishing. So you, yourself, are in a much better mental state. Your body will be heathier, so it has been shown. And also, people will perceive it as something nice.”
We need to train ourselves to be happy.
Ricard compares the pursuit of happiness with an athlete who must train in order to run in a marathon. He points out the huge difference between training and not training. We can apply this idea to the mind because of the highly distinguishable difference between training it and not training it.
Take 15 minutes a day
Take the time to practice thinking happy thoughts. That’s 15 minutes straight. Ricard acknowledges we might experience numerous happy thoughts in a day but they are usually fleeting and we quickly become distracted by other thoughts or events. The practice of happiness must be a daily habit. Logically, if we are not training ourselves to be happy, we are inadvertently training ourselves to be negative or, at least, to be meaninglessly neutral.
If you can learn to ride a bike, you can learn how to be happy. If you are interested in Matthieu Ricard, search for his talk on TED.
At this, the conclusion to a busy but rewarding Term 1, I wish you all a happy and safe Easter, and trust that you enjoy a well-deserved break relaxing with family and friends.
Mr Michael Stewart, Head of Junior School