July 17, 2009

Who's the happiest man in the world?

According to an opinion piece by Daniel Goleman in this morning's New York Times ("Sitting Quietly, Doing Something"), Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is. And the reason is no secret:

So how did he get that way? Apparently, the same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice.

Buddhist meditation practice, that is. According to Goleman, Mingyur Rinpoche is an "Olympic-level meditator," logging more than 10,000 hours on the cushion. Goleman cites neuroscientist Richard Davidson's studies on meditation's effect on the brain to explain why these spiritual athletes are so cheerful. There is a strong correllation, Goleman explains, between committed meditation practice and increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with positive moods:

The more lifetime hours of practice, the greater the increases tended to be. All this seems to confirm the idea that in the realm of positive moods, as in nearly every endeavor, worldly or spiritual, practice matters.

So you feel better if you meditate. But you knew that, didn't you?

(Yongey Mingyur's "The Aim of Attention" appears in the current issue of Tricycle. You can read it here.)

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Tricycle » Norman Fischer: “For the Time Being”'s picture

[...] while back we noted Daniel Goleman’s “Happy Days” post about “The Happiest Man in the World” (Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche) and Pico Iyer’s on the Dalai Lama. Now, you can read Zen [...]

Jeff Hanson's picture

Bob Dylan was once asked if he had a happy life. I think he said no or not really. He did say that he had a "blessed life." And we all do so if your not "happier" than someone else so what. And isn't it just like Daniel Goleman to miss the point?

James Shaheen's picture

I sat a retreat myself with Mingyur Rinpoche and have had the opportunity to see him several times since then. I'm pretty convinced he's happier than I am...

Jeff Hanson's picture

I've met Mingyur Rinpoche and he truly is a happy man. At a 3 day talk he kept saying "I have a big secret" and he waited till the very end when someone asked "what is your big secret?" He replied "its all here right now." I think realizing, trusting, and living that would make anyone happy. BTW, he likes to watch movies so that may be part of the happiness.

Keith's picture

> They didnt test me, how can they say “he is” the happiest man in the world?!

I think you just disqualified yourself. ;)

Tes's picture

They didnt test me, how can they say "he is" the happiest man in the world?!

Lynn Somerstein, PhD, RYT's picture

Practice-- meditation, yoga asana, psychotherapy-- these al work in a beautiful synergy, and help you KNOW life's value.