Interview with Vadivu Govind, on how to cultivate happiness - II

By Matthieu Ricard on October 10, 2012

From a series of private interviews with Matthieu Ricard conducted by Vadivu Govind in Singapore in September 2012, during which she assumed the role of a wealthy leader and posed some thoughts such a leader may have to Matthieu.

I have a very stressful and hectic lifestyle. What are some daily practices that you can recommend for me?

Even if you have a very hectic lifestyle, you probably find time to go to a very nice gym in the early morning and exert yourself on a bicycle or treadmill because you are convinced that it's good for your health and that you will get rid of your tummy and look younger.

Imagine that for 30 minutes a day you can learn how to deal better with your mind and emotions and that this will change the quality of the 23 hours and thirty minutes left in your day.

You can become familiar with your own mind and, through simple methods of mind-training, you can learn how to distinguish between the thoughts and emotions that undermine your wellbeing and those that will nurture it. You can learn how to cultivate inner joy and inner peace. This mind training will diminish stress and bring more serenity. Above all, it will give you the inner resources to deal with the ups and downs of life.

However powerful you may be your control of the world is very limited, temporary, and illusory. Ups and downs in the stock market change your financial situation, or you may lose your job, or you think you are the boss and the next day, you are thrown out.  If you put all your hopes and fears in a situation and you think that if you don't have that, you cannot be happy, it's like hoping to win the lottery.

If you look at the inner condition of your mind, no matter what it is, you can keep your serenity, strength of mind, and confidence, because it's in your mind. Nobody can take that away from you. Nobody. So if you cultivate that, you can be ready for whatever happens. Like a cat: if you throw a cat in the air, it will fall back on its four legs. You will know that no matter what happens, you will have the inner resources to deal with it.

When you are feeling vulnerable or insecure and the insecurity causes you to withdraw into yourself, you will become self-centered or arrogant. If you know that you have the resources to deal with the world, then you don't have to be insecure. You don't just depend on your image, what people think of you, your rank, your position, and so on. With inner confidence, you are open to others because you're not occupied with ‟me, me, me” all the time. Inner strength naturally opens you to kindness and benevolence, and prepares you to be ready for constructive activity in the world and not just occupied with ceaselessly promoting self-interest.

Interview conducted by: Vadivu Govind, Director, Joy Works ( on 13 Sept. 2012, Poh Ming Tse Temple, Singapore. She blogs at