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Thoughts on Happiness and the Mind

By Matthieu Ricard on July 11, 2017

Mr39

Happiness is not the endless pursuit of pleasant experiences — that sounds more like a recipe for exhaustion — but a way of being that results from cultivating a benevolent mind, emotional balance, inner freedom, inner peace, and wisdom. Each of these qualities is a skill that can be enhanced through training the mind.

We deal with our mind from morning until evening. This mind can be our best friend or our worst enemy. We should do everything we can to improve outer circumstances — remedying poverty, inequalities, conflicts, and so on — while also doing our best to achieve a state of mind that give us the inner resources to deal with the ups and downs of life.

 Suffering and upsetting situations do not come out of the blue. They have proximate and distant causes. There is no war that did not start with a thought of hatred in someone’s mind that then spread. Except for natural catastrophes, most regrettable situations are man-made and mind-made. So, we should go at the root causes of our suffering — mental confusion, hatred, greed, jealousy, and arrogance — and endeavour to remedy theses causes.

When faced with adverse circumstances, if you can do something, do it and there is no need to worry. If you can’t do anything, then there is no point to worry. So in either case, worrying is an added suffering. But this does not mean of course that we should not be unhappy about injustice, abuse and other kinds of behaviour that brings suffering upon others.