“If you can learn how to drive a bike you can learn how to be happy,” says 67-year-old Buddhist monk and Happiest Man In The World, Matthieu Ricard.
That’s because he participated in a 12-year brain study on meditation and compassion led by a neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson. Davidson hooked up Ricard’s head to 256 sensors and found that when Ricard was meditating on compassion, his mind was unusually light and brain produces a level of gamma waves, which related to consciousness, attention, learning and memory and it was never reported before in the neuroscience literature.
The tests also showed extreme action in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, which allow him an unusually great capability for happiness and a compact inclination towards negativity. According to Ricard sometimes he meditates for whole day without getting bored.
Following are some advice from him for how to be happy.
Prevent thinking “me, me, me”
Stop thinking about yourself, and how to make things better for yourself all the time, is exhausting, stressful, and ultimately leads to unhappiness.
“It’s not the moral ground,” Ricard explained. “It’s simply that me, me, me all day long is very stuffy. And it’s relatively depressed, because you instrumentalize the whole world as a threat, or as a potential sort of interest [to yourself].”
If you want to be happy, you should endeavor to be “benevolent” which will not only make you feel better, but it will also make others like you better. You can also be the happiest person in the world if you look for happiness in the right place but the problem is that we tend not to.
Happiness is not the chase of a never-ending succession of experiences
That’s a recipe for fatigue more than happiness. Happiness is a way of being. The challenge is to let that way of being overtake all other emotional states. Unlike pleasure, which exhausts itself as you experience it, happiness is a talent and refined and we all have the potential for it. You have to look at what contributes to a prosperous in your life. In Buddhism we say the root cause of unhappiness is ignorance.
Happiness is about raising your “baseline”. It’s not about looking for unexpected fireworks or overjoyed experiences
The first step to take is to understand that you want to get better – that the world is not a mail order catalogue for your fantasies and desires and that we have a relatively limited control over those transient, illusory conditions. To be really happy we have to get rid of mental toxins such as hatred, obsession, egotism, jealousy, ravenousness and arrogance. The whole point of meditation is to get rid of those and to grow positive qualities such as humanity.
You might disagree that a awful anger or a small piece of negativity can describe a person’s character so it’s not necessarily bad. That’s as maybe – we all have a dissimilar combination of light and shadows – but should we just give in to that view and think that it’s optimal. The way the mind read the world is a decisive component in determining the worth of every instant that goes by yet we give modest concentration to our internal state.
We must learn to recognise that there are mental states or emotions that are conducive to flourishing and some that are destructive. When we have a blaze of annoyance there follows a sort of disobedient period where we can’t even recognize the positive aspects of the person with whom we’re angry. They are just 100 per cent contemptible and our whole mental landscape is full of that. A direct antidote approach is to treat it like heat and cold. This means that the more you bring benevolent or altruistic thoughts at that instant to the mind, the less space there is for the opposite. This is antidote training.
By keeping attentive of the anger it cannot sustain itself, it stops being fuelled and slowly dies out.
If you become skilled in that, then with awareness you can simply let those afflictive emotions dissolve without keeping them in like a time bomb, or exploding them each time. It’s about realising that you not anger any more than you are the flu. Of course I get annoyed but I usually begin laughing quite quickly at the irritation, because it’s so silly.
To be completely free you can’t at the same time have a responsible concern for people who depend on you. How can I be happy when I’ve been celibate for 30 years? If I have a family I will cause a lot of suffering so it’s not feasible. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have wonderful friendships and relationships with half of humanity. One aspect may not be there but many others are.
Initiate teaching your mind like you’d train to run a marathon
Ricard believes everyone has the capability to have a lighter mind because there’s a potential for kindness in every human being unless you’re, serial killer, and there’s something in fact chemically irregular going on with your brain.
But like a marathon runner who needs to coach before he or she can run 26 miles, people who want to be happier require to train their minds..
“With mental training, we can constantly carry our standard of happiness to a different level,” Ricard explains. If we train, we might run a marathon. You might not become an Olympic champion, but there is a enormous differentiation between training and not training. So why should that not apply to the mind?…
Just spend 15 nonstop minutes per day thinking happy thoughts
Just Start by thinking happy thoughts for 10 to 15 minutes per day. Typically when we experience feelings of happiness and love, it’s fleeting and then something else happens, and we move on to the next thought. But Ricard says instead, focus on not letting your mind get unfocused and keep focused on the positive emotions for the next stretch of time. And if able to do that even just 2 weeks later you can feel positive mental results. And if you carry out that for fifty years like Ricard has, you can become a happiness person too