Matthieu Ricard, a 66-year-old Buddist monk, has been declared the world's happiest man by using computers to scan his brain and show that he has the highest capacity for joy.
Richard Davidson heads the neuroscience department at the University of Wisconsin, reported DailyMail. Davidson connected over 256 sensors to Ricard head in order to get the best reading possible on the brain scans.
Davidson explained that, "We have been looking for 12 years at the effect of short and long-term mind-training through meditation on attention, on compassion, on emotional balance. We've found remarkable results with long-term practitioners who did 50,000 rounds of meditation, but also with three weeks of 20 minutes a day, which of course is more applicable to our modern times."
Davidson asked Ricard to begin meditating on compassion, once he began the brain scans began to show very high levels of gamma waves. He then said, "[These results have] never been reported before in the neuroscience literature."
He explained that the gamma waves coincide with learning, memory, consciousness, and attention, according to Simple Capactiy.
Not only is Ricard the founder of Karuna Shechen, a charity in India, he is also a French genetic scientist. This is a very interesting combination for a man who has been labeled the happiest man. Just 40 years ago, the Buddist monk decided to move to India submerge himself into the studies of Buddhism and meditation.
HIs time in Bhutan has been suggested to be the secret Ricard used to achieve his current state of happiness. He had spent eight years learning from a Tibetan Buddhist master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, according to Shining Hope.
Bhutan, nicknamed the "land of the thunder dragon," is well-known for its political philospy. "Gross National Happiness," begun back in 1972 which was designed by Jigme Singye Wangchuck. This is the concept that challenges people to use their synergy to balance material and spiritual development within themselves.
"Mattieu Ricard left us with one last special bit of advice. He volunteered to share his hints and tips for achieving happiness," reported by SimpleCapactity.
Read Ricard's tips below.
1. A healthy mind should act like a mirror - faces can be reflected in a glass but none of them stick. Use the same technique with thoughts - let them pass through your mind but don't dwell.
2. It's impossible to stop thoughts from coming but focusing on a particular sound or the breath going in and out calms the mind, giving greater clarity. Controlling the mind is not about reducing your freedom, it's about not being a slave to your thoughts. Think of it as directing your mind like a boat rather than drifting.
3. Be mindful - pay attention to the sensations of your breath going in and out. If you notice your mind wandering simply bring it back to focusing on your breath. This is known as mindfulness. You can apply it to other sensations to bring you into the 'now' rather than dwelling on the past or future. You could focus instead on heat, cold and sounds that you hear.
4. Once you've achieved some skill in this you can use that to cultivate qualities such as kindness, or dealing with disturbing emotions. He says everyone has felt all-consuming love but usually it lasts for about 15 seconds, but you can hold on and nurture this vivid feeling by focusing on it in meditation. If you feel it becoming vague you can consciously revive it.
5. Like when playing the piano, practicing the feeling for 20 minutes has a far greater impact over time than a few seconds. Regular practice is also needed like watering a plant.
6. You can then use meditation to gain some space from negative emotions. Ricard says: 'You can look at your experience like a fire that burns. If you are aware of anger you are not angry you are aware. Being aware of anxiety is not being anxious it is being aware.' By being aware of these emotions you are no longer adding fuel to their fire and they will burn down.
7. You will see benefits in stress levels and general well being as well as brain changes with regular practice in a month. Those who say they don't have enough time to meditate should look at the benefits: 'If it gives you the resources to deal with everything else during the other 23 hours and 30 minutes, it seems a worthy way of sending 20 minutes,' Ricard says.