If someone decides to do an internet search to find out who is the happiest man in the world, the name "Matthieu Ricard" will appear in the results.
Matthieu Ricard, 77, is a Tibetan Buddhist monk originally from France who has been declared "the happiest man in the world."
This "title" dates back to years ago, when he participated in a 12-year study on the brain, altruism and meditation, led by University of Wisconsin neuroscientists.
Altruism - the principle and practice of concern for the well-being and/or happiness of people, animals, etc.; it can be considered the opposite of selfishness.
"The scans showed that when meditating on altruism, Ricard's brain produces a level of gamma waves — those associated with consciousness, attention, learning and memory — previously unreported in the neuroscience literature," said lead study neuroscientist Richard Davidson.
Ricard – who has said he sometimes meditates for days without getting bored – admits to being a generally happy person, although he thinks the title "happiest man" is a media overstatement.
His advice for happiness is related to altruism. The reason, he says, is because thinking about yourself and how to improve things all the time is exhausting and stressful.
If one wants to be happy, Ricard says one should try to be "kind," which will not only make oneself feel better, but also make others like one more.
He cautions that this doesn't mean you should let other people take advantage of you, but you should generally try to be kind.
"If your mind is filled with kindness, passion and solidarity, that's a very healthy state of mind," Ricard said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"With mental training, we can always bring [our level of happiness] to another level," Ricard explained.
"It's like running. If I train, I can run a marathon. I may not be an Olympic champion, but there's a big difference between training and not training. So why shouldn't that apply to the mind?"
Start by thinking happy things for 10 to 15 minutes a day, the monk explained. So if you practice this for 50+ years as he has, you can find the happiness you seek.