"The best way to flourish in life is to express, at all times, benevolence warm-heartedness and altruism," said international Author Matthieu Ricard, also known as "the happiest man in the world", addressing the audience at the second edition of the UAE’s Happiness Journey.
"If we think about ourselves all the time, we will be stuck in this small, narrow bubble, and that is not the way to happiness," explained Ricard. "We need to go from individual change to social change, where we care for the common good. Our life depends so much on others."
In a session titled "Compassion: The Inner Condition of Happiness", the bestselling author who has spent 51 years of his life living in the Himalayas, advised to look within if we are looking to make a change. "In order to be an ethical human being," he said, "I must acknowledge that deep within, I am looking to avoid suffering. I can’t say I will leave my hand in the fire and hope not to get burned. The second step is to have compassionate ethics, which means applying the same concept to others: just as I don’t want to suffer, neither should any other sentient being."
Ricard defined four main concepts that lead to happiness: Altruism, where we wish for all others to find happiness and the causes of happiness. Meanwhile, compassion means wishing others to be free from suffering and all its causes. The third concept is wisdom, which is knowing reality as it is, while empathy is defined as affective resonance with others.
Ricard has been called the "happiest man in the world" by several popular media, after he volunteered in a study on happiness performed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which examined the effects meditation has – and particularly, meditation on compassion – on the brain. Ricard scored significantly above the average of hundreds of volunteers. "Even 20 minutes of meditation per day for a period of five weeks is enough to train our brain," he advised, adding that "money can’t buy happiness. It can, however, bring happiness to both the giver and the receiver when donated."
"When enough individuals change themselves on purpose, we will head towards a happy society," he said. "There needs to be a balance between social financial and environmental wealth."
Now in its second edition, the Happiness Journey is inspired by the legacy of the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and highlights his values, which have been adopted as national values since the founding of the UAE. The Journey aims to support the UAE’s efforts in achieving a better quality of life for the community by establishing happiness and wellbeing as a way of life and thinking.
The Journey focuses on five themes: Mind Health, Physical Health, Emotional Health, Gastronomy and Arts. The events include a series of unique cognitive and interactive experiences that enable visitors to test practical and fun applications of concepts, principles and theories in the field of happiness and wellbeing.