Happiness can be trained. Here’s how to do it according to Matthieu Ricard

Joy does not come from the frantic search for pleasant feelings but from the realization that everything is constantly changing. If we accept the ups and downs of our lives, we learn to appreciate the beauty of the present. A Buddhist monk tells us about it


Our control over reality, and the objective conditions that define it, such as the country we live in, the laws that govern it, the state of well-being of its citizens, is limited. In many cases, however, our state of mind can override the general context. We know we can feel unhappy in a little paradise and instead keep ours “joy of life” even in difficult conditions. So transforming the way we see and experience the world makes a big difference. Matthieu Ricardthe “French voice” of the Dalai Lama, author of the book Like a drop of honey (Ubiliber publications, €20) explains how to do it.

Google calls you the happiest person in the world: why?

It’s an article that was published in the newspapers a few years ago. But how could we know the satisfaction level of seven billion people? In fact, anyone can find it happiness if you look for it in the right place. We must learn to cultivate essential qualities for our well-being wisdom, altruism and compassionand begin to eliminate the toxins that constantly plague our minds, such as hatred, ignorance, and the desire to possess and bully others.

In the book he wrote, he debunks the cliché of having “your whole life ahead of you” and talks about the priceless value of every moment. How can we realize this?

Our existence offers us great possibilities, but it is fragile. Death is certain, but we cannot predict when it will happen. Reflecting on permanence makes us understand the value of time. However, we usually let it slip like gold dust through our fingers. No need to jump up and down impatiently to get results as fast as possible. We must develop an unshakable determination Don’t waste our present to distractions that don’t make sense. We must use the time we have to become better human beings. From now on.

So is our idea of ​​happiness a source of pain?

If you are passionately seeking wealth, glory, beauty, eternal youth, social status and prestige, sure. Being happy is not an endless succession of pleasant sensations: this is an ideal recipe for exhaustion! Authentic happiness is one awareness that embraces everything that happens to usincluding joys and sorrows. It is a selfless resilience that gives us the inner resources to deal with life as it presents itself. Freedom from pain is the fundamental aspiration of all sentient beings, including animals. If we cultivate fundamental human qualities and related skills, such as altruism, compassion, freedom from passive mental states, inner peace, we can experience a sense of inner flourishing and fulfillment. And to do this, it is important to understand that our well-being is incompatible with self-centeredness: we are all interdependent on each other. If we always put “Me, me, me” before the rest of the world, we will make ourselves and those around us unhappy.

He claims that to put our Ego aside, we must tame our thoughts. How do you do it?

We can be our mind’s best friend or worst enemy. Certain moods and emotions such as hatred, obsession, jealousy and pride contaminate and poison our mental activity. And we keep underestimating ours ability to change, reinforcing our habits and patterns, thought by thought. We find nothing strange about spending years learning to walk, read and write, or acquire professional skills. Just like we spend hours at the gym to stay in shape because we are convinced that these efforts will bring us long-term benefits. Here, working with the mind follows the same logic. How could it change without the slightest effort, just by desire? It takes consistency, patience and discipline.

Can understanding how karma works help us in this change?

Sure. Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘action’. It refers to the laws of cause and effect that govern the consequences of our thoughts, words and actions. In practice, if we throw a stone in the air, we should not be surprised if it lands on our head. Whenever we act, we must be aware of our motivations. As the Dalai Lama explains: “Have we looked at the whole situation or are we only looking at the specific aspects? Is our compassion and kindness limited only to our families, our friends and those with whom we closely identify?” Taking care of others means taking care of ourselves.

The practice of loving-kindness

Our minds are often confused, agitated, rebellious, and subject to countless automatic patterns. The goal of this exercise is to sharpen our attention, develop emotional balance, inner peace and wisdom. Imagine a child approaching with a wide smile, full of innocence. You look at him tenderly and pick him up. You feel a sense of kindness and unconditional love. Allow yourself to be completely permeated by this feeling that desires only your well-being. Then extend this desire to all those close to you: family, colleagues, acquaintances and progressively to all beings. Finally, extend this desire to your personal enemies and then again to the enemies of humanity so that they renounce hatred, greed, cruelty and indifference. Now it mentally embraces the totality of sentient beings with a feeling of boundless love, as if everything were that child you hold in your arms.

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