Matthieu Ricard, born February 15th, 1946, is a French Buddhist monk, photographer, author and the French translator and right-hand man for the Dalai Lama. He lives and works on humanitarian projects in Tibet and Nepal. Matthieu studied with many Tibetan masters, like: Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Also, Matthieu Ricard held a lecture at TED in 2004 on the subject “happiness” – named The habits of happiness.
Some of Matthieu Ricard’s books are: Journey to Enlightenment: The Life and World of Khyentse Rinpoche, Spiritual Teacher From Tibet (1996), The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life (2000), The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet (2004), Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill (2007) and Why Meditate: Working with Thoughts and Emotions (2010).
He has been dubbed the “happiest person in the world” by popular media. Matthieu Richard was a volunteer subject in a study performed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on happiness, scoring significantly beyond the average obtained after testing hundreds of volunteers. Scans revealed he has the largest capacity for happiness ever recorded. The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.
“Happiness can’t be reduced to a few agreeable sensations. Rather, it is a way of being and of experiencing the world—a profound fulfillment that suffuses every moment and endures despite inevitable setbacks.” – Matthieu Ricard’s quote.
What is happiness and how can we all get some? Matthieu Ricard has devoted his life to these questions and his answer is influenced by his faith as well as by his scientific turn of mind: We can train our minds in habits of happiness.
“So how do we proceed in our quest for happiness? Very often, we look outside. We think that if we could gather this and that, all the conditions, something that we say, “Everything to be happy — to have everything to be happy.”
That very sentence already reveals the doom of destruction of happiness. To have everything. If we miss something, it collapses. And also, 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? We know, by experience, that we can be what we call “a little paradise,” and yet, be completely unhappy within.”