Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happiness -- Riccar Matthieu

Words of wisdom about the path to happiness.  Some good stuff. 

"Happiness is not an endless succession of pleasurable experiences. That’s a recipe for exhaustion, not for happiness. Happiness is a way of being that comes with altruistic love, inner strength, inner freedom, and serenity – and it can be cultivated as a skill, day after day, month after month. In recent years, the collaboration of contemplatives with neuroscientists has shown that, thanks to the brain’s plasticity, we can train our mind to become more compassionate, more mindful and to achieve greater inner peace, just as someone who trains to play the piano or learn how to read and write. Any training changes the brain and this is true for training the basic qualities of our minds that altogether constitute genuine happiness.

The pursuit of happiness is intimately linked with altruism. There’s no such thing as a successful, selfish happiness. The French writer Romain Rolland said that if the only goal of your life is selfish happiness, your life will soon be without any goal. It doesn’t work. It’s a lose/lose situation. You make yourself miserable and you make everyone miserable around you. It’s also at odds with reality; we are not separate entities. We need to recognize our interconnectedness and develop a sense of global responsibility. So loving kindness and compassion are not only the most positive of all emotional states, they are state of mind that is in harmony with the interconnectedness of all beings – therefore they will work, they will help us and all around us to flourish in life. It is now a win/win situation.

Altruism, again, is not a minor component of happiness. It is at the core of happiness because altruism is based on recognizing the fundamental interdependence of all beings, on recognizing that just like us, all sentient being want to avoid suffering and find happiness. If we look at the challenges of our modern times, it is very hard for people to reconcile three apparently competing time scales. First there is the short term that concerns of our fast moving economy, with its super high speed transactions and people claiming that this is the hard reality and that everything else has to be sacrificed to it. The midterm concerns the quality of life, and long term concerns of the environment.

The concept of altruism is the only one that can connect meaningful those three times scale. People with more consideration for others will not gamble with the savings of people who trust them, as if at a casino, for the sake of a big bonus. With more consideration for others, one will do everything possible to make things better – at the workplace, within the family, within their professions – so that people can flourish in life. And having more consideration for others, one will not sacrifice and jeopardize the only home that we have, this earth."

More of his writing can be found here

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