Learnings from Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard

Learnings from Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard

Who wouldn’t want a “guide” to develop happiness? This charming book is brimming with words of wisdom too good not to share. I hope these learnings and quotes inspire you to enjoy this book for yourself.

  1. Cultivate wisdom

“One is not born wise; one becomes it.”

2. Happiness is more than a feeling – it is a state of being

“By happiness I mean here a deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind. This is not a mere pleasurable feeling, a fleeting emotion, or a mood, but an optimal state of being. Happiness is also a way of interpreting the world, since while it may be difficult to change the world, it is always possible to change the way we look at it.”

3. Happiness exists when a person is in harmony with themselves and the world around them

“Ask any number of people to describe a moment of “perfect” happiness. Some will talk about moments of deep peace experienced in a harmonious natural setting, of a forest dappled in sunshine, of a mountain summit looking out across a vast horizon, of the shores of a tranquil lake, of a night walk through snow under a starry sky, and so on. Others will refer to a long-awaited event: an exam they’ve aced, a sporting victory, meeting someone they’ve longed to meet, the birth of a child. Still others will speak of a moment of peaceful intimacy with their family or a loved one, or of having made someone else happy. The common factor to all of these experiences would seem to be the momentary disappearance of inner conflicts.”

4. Look for happiness within

“We look for happiness outside ourselves when it is basically an inner state of being. If it were an exterior condition, it would be forever beyond our reach. Our desires are boundless and our control over the world is limited, temporary, and, more often than not, illusory.

5. Change your thoughts and you change your life

“Change, even a tiny one, in the way we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world can significantly change our existence.”

6. We can choose our state of being

“Happiness is not given to us, nor is misery imposed. At every moment we are at a crossroads and must choose the direction we will take.”

7. Optimists find the positives in a negative situation, and learn from their mistakes

“When difficulties seem insurmountable, optimists react in a more constructive and creative way. They accept the facts with realism, know how to rapidly identify the positive in adversity, draw lessons from it, and come up with an alternative solution or turn to a new project.”

8. Pessimists shy away from their problems and see themselves as “helpless” in their situation

Pessimists would rather turn away from the problem or adopt escapist strategies — sleep, isolation, drug or alcohol abuse — that diminish their focus on the problem. Instead of confronting them with resolve, they prefer to brood over their misfortunes, nurture illusions, dream up “magic” solutions, and accuse the whole world of being against them. They have a hard time drawing lessons from the past, which often leads to the repetition of their problems. They are more fatalistic (“I told you it wouldn’t work. It’s always the same, no matter what I do”) and are quick to see themselves as “mere pawns in the game of life.”

9. Suffering is everywhere

“Buddhist texts say that in the cycle of death and rebirth, no place, not even one the size of a needle’s point, is exempt from suffering.”

10. Take care of every moment in your life

“Take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves,” Lord Chesterfield once told his son. This is the best path to gradual change.”

11. Definition of meditation

“Meditation is not about sitting quietly in the shade of a tree and relaxing in a moment of respite from the daily grind; it is about familiarizing yourself with a new vision of things, a new way to manage your thoughts, of perceiving people and experiencing the world.”

12. Happiness is simply the “calm amidst the storm”

“Happiness is thus viewed as being just a deceptively calm moment in the middle of a storm.”