After years of study of his brain in the affective neuroscience laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, USA, in April 2007 Matthieu Ricard was considered as ‘the happiest man in the world’.
He was subjected to nuclear magnetic resonance and connected to 256 sensors to detect his stress, irritability, anger, pleasure, satisfaction and many different sensations, and the results were compared with those obtained from hundreds of volunteers whose happiness was classified at levels ranged from 0.3 (very unhappy) to -0.3 (very happy). Matthieu managed to -0.45, overflowing the limits provided in the study, surpassing all previous records and earning a title that he does not accept. He prefers to highlight that effectively the amount of ‘positive emotions’ that produces his brain is ‘far from normal parameters’.
Matthieu is a Buddhist monk who resides in the Dargyeling Tennyi Shechen monastery in Nepal. He was born in Paris in 1946 and is the son of Jean-François Revel, a French philosopher of renown, so he grew up surrounded by the French intellectual elite. PhD in molecular genetics at the Pasteur Institute, after completing his doctoral thesis in 1972 decided to abandon the scientific career and concentrate on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. He lived in the Himalayas and was a disciple of Kangyur Rinpoche, master of an ancient Buddhist school of the Nyingma tradition. Then it became a close disciple of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche until his death in 1991, and since then is personal adviser to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.
In this interview, conducted on channel Vision, he explains how happiness is something that can be achieved through learning and training, just like reading, writing, bicycling or playing music of Mozart.