Improve Your Life In Just 15 Minutes A Day – Secrets From The ‘World’s Happiest Man’
Written by: Lindsay Sibson
“You are actually pretty smart for an American,” he said to me as we sat there in a fancy restaurant in London.
UM… thank you, I guess?
I was 5 months into my backpacking journey in Europe when a friend of a friend connected me with Mr. Miserable, a well-to-do psychiatrist with a successful practice on the esteemed Harvey Street in London.
I love meeting “locals,” so as he picked me up in his flashy Audi R8 (50 Shades of Grey whoop whoop!), I was having an “O-M-G is this for real” experience.
That is, until I quickly realized how negative and pessimistic his attitude was. UGH – bummer.
Here was this “successful” guy who some would look at and envy because of who he was, what he had, where he lived, etc. YET, despite his success and fortune, deep down inside was actually this incredibly unhappy person.
So… WHAT does it take to BE HAPPY?
Let’s ask the happiest man in the world, Matthieu Ricard, what his secret is to being happy.
Who Is “The World’s Happiest Man?”
A 69 year old Tibetan Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard from France, has been deemed “the world’s happiest man” after participating in a 12-year brain study on compassion and meditation. The study was led by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist from University of Wisconsin.
Ricard had 256 sensors hooked up to his head while he was meditating on compassion. Davidson found that Ricard’s mind was unusually light, which indicated that:
- Ricard’s brain produces a level of gamma waves ‘never reported before in neuroscience literature.’
- Gamma waves are linked to attention, memory, learning and consciousness.
- There was excessive activity in Ricard’s left prefrontal cortex, which grants him:
- The ability to have an abnormally large capacity for happiness.
- A reduced proclivity towards negativity.
Ricard describes himself as a generally happy person and can meditate for entire days without getting bored or weary. He does admit that he feels his title of the “happiest man” is an overstatement that is highly media-driven.
However, Ricard does have a thing or two to suggest as to HOW to be happy. Here is what he told Business Insider at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:
“STOP Thinking ‘Me, Me, Me’”
Not only is it stressful and exhausting to think about yourself and how to make things better for yourself, it ultimately leads to unhappiness.
According to Ricard, the key is altruism:
Altruism: the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Selflessness.
“It’s not the moral ground. It’s simply that me, me, me all day long is very stuffy and it’s quite miserable, because you instrumentalize the whole world as a threat, or as a potential sort of interest to yourself,” says Ricard.
Ricard’s tips to be happy:
- Strive to be “benevolent” – well meaning and kindly.
- It will make others like you more as well as make YOU feel better.
- Do not let other people take advantage of you, but aim to be kind within reason.
Ricard states: “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 healthier, so it has been shown. And also, people will perceive it as something nice.”
HOW To Become Altruistic And Benevolent
To start, begin training your mind like you would train to run a marathon.
It is Ricard’s belief that everyone has the capability to have a lighter mind. Unless you are a serial killer and there is something chemically abnormal with your brain, every human being has the potential for goodness.
It’s a matter of training your mind.
Just like a marathon runner needs to train before he or she can run the full 26.2 miles, if you want to be happier, you need to train your mind.
How should you train your mind?
Ricard’s recommended method of training is meditation.
Attention, emotional balance, resilience and benevolence are all skills that can be trained, which can help bring your happiness to an elevated level. Therefore, happiness is a skill that can be trained.
How To Train Your Mind To Be Happier
Thinking happy thoughts for 15 continuous minutes a day can help keep you focused on positive emotions. Typically, when you have happy and loving feelings, they quickly come and go and then you move on to the next thought.
The goal is to keep your mind from becoming distracted by focusing and thinking happy thoughts NONSTOP for a stretch of 10-15 minutes.
To feel positive mental results, Ricard encourages you to conduct this training for a period of at least two weeks and then continue on to become even happier.
According to the study conducted by Davidson, just 20 minutes of daily meditation can make you a much happier person overall!
What makes YOU feel happiest? Please SHARE with us in the comments below.
Lindsay Sibson turned her lifelong dream of traveling the world into a reality when she first stepped on a plan in April of 2014. With the simple intention of learning more about this beautiful world, she stepped away from corporate America to explore an alternative lifestyle of long term international travel, volunteering, blogging and pursuing a blissfully happy and fulfilling way of life.
Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life. Connect with her on her website and follow her travels on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/_traveloholic_).
Through her blog, Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life.
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