How To Be Happy
Matthieu Ricard, a 69-year-old Buddhist monk from France, has some advice on this subject. After 12 years of brain studies on meditation and compassion at the University of Wisconsin, Ricard became known as “the world’s happiest man.” The scans showed what the researchers described as excessive activity in Ricard’s left prefrontal cortex, which they wrote allowed him “an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.” Ricard’s formula for happiness is to avoid thinking about yourself, which he finds exhausting, stressful and a recipe for unhappiness. Instead, he advocates striving to be benevolent, which he has said can make you feel better, and makes you more likeable to others. In Ricard’s view this takes daily practice, beginning with 10 to 15 minutes during which you focus on thinking happy thoughts without letting your mind wander. In just two weeks, he says, you can experience positive mental results. Richard’s formula has been endorsed by neuroscientist Richard Davidson, who led the University of Wisconsin brain studies. His conclusion: just 20 minutes of meditation daily can make you happier.
Richard Davidson et al, “Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 16, 2004, doi: 10.1073/pnas.04007401101
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