Known as the “happiest man in the world”, biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard believes we can all train ourselves to be happy or achieve a state of wellbeing for a feeling of serenity.
In this Ted Talk, the French author and photographer, Matthieu Ricard, points out, “No one wakes up in the morning thinking, ‘May I suffer the whole day?’” He remarks, “Which means that somehow, consciously or not, directly or indirectly, in the short or the long term, whatever we do, whatever we hope, whatever we dream — somehow, is related to a deep, profound desire for well-being or happiness. As Pascal said, even the one who hangs himself, somehow, is looking for a cessation of suffering. He finds no other way.”
On defining happiness, he agrees that it is a vague word and one can look at it as a deep sense of well-being. “And so, I think the best definition, according to the Buddhist view, is that well-being is not just a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that actually pervades and underlies all emotional states, and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way. For you, that might be surprising. Can we have this kind of well-being while being sad? In a way, why not? Because we are speaking of a different level.”
However, to achieve this well-being, we must look within, instead of trying to control our external circumstances. The monk explains, “When things go wrong, we try to fix the outside so much, but our control of the outer world is limited, temporary, and often, illusory. So now, look at inner conditions. Aren’t they stronger? Isn’t it the mind that translates the outer condition into happiness and suffering? And isn’t that stronger?”