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Happy Monk

Scientists have pinpointed Matthieu Ricard to be the happiest man they have tested. Ricard is a monk, molecular geneticist, and confidant of the Dalai Lama. He is proof meditation can alter the brain and improve an individual’s happiness.

When people practice meditation, they become more mindful of how everyone and everything connects together. They bring awareness to the unfolding of the present, moment-to-moment, with curiosity and acceptance. For example, when someone is mindful during a meal, the person does not chomp down quickly, but thinks about where the food came from.

Meditation is a way to escape unpleasant feelings. It can be done lying down, by relaxing each part of the body. It can be done while sitting on a chair. It can be done while sitting on the floor with the legs crossed. Once a person gets to a point of relaxation, the person may forget he or she is in a position of pain or uncomfortable.

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Ricard has traveled the world, and become a Tibetan Buddhist. Four years ago, neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired Ricard’s skull with 256 sensors to research practitioners of meditation. At the University of Wisconsin, the head scans established that when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produces gamma waves linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory.

The scans indicated excessive activity in Ricard’s left prefrontal cortex compared to its right counterpart. This gave him a huge capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity, according to researchers.

Ricard is age 66. He is a respected Buddhist and is one of the religion’s leading scholars. He grew up among the Paris. He is the son of French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel and watercolor painter Yahne Le Toumelin. His father was a French journalist, author, and member of the Académie française. Revel became a famous European proponent of classical liberalism and free market economics. His mother was born in Paris, and daughter of a sailor. She spent her childhood in Le Croisic.

When Ricard received his PhD in cell genetics from the Institut Pasteur in Paris in 1972, he began to journey to Darjeeling in India during his holidays. He moved to India to study Buddhism and emerged 26 years later with a bestseller, “The Monk And The Philosopher,” a dialogue on the purpose of life he wrote with his dad.

He got involved in research and the science of meditation. He has accompanied the Dalai Lama as an adviser on trips to French-speaking countries and science conferences. Ricard addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos during the financial crisis in 2009 to enlighten them on greed.

His has written “Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill” and donates all proceeds of his books to 110 humanitarian projects which have built educational institutions for children.

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