The question always popped in my mind: Is there really anybody, who is happiest person in the world? Can happiness really be measured? And while randomly surfing on web about the same topic, I came across Matthieu Ricard. Matthieu is Tibetan monk and molecular geneticist. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have certified him as the happiest person in the world.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up Ricard’s skull with 256 sensors at the University of Wisconsin as part of research on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.
The scans showed that when meditating on compassion, 66 years old Ricard’s brain produces a level of gamma waves — responsible for consciousness, attention, learning and memory. Such biological phenomenon has never been reported before in the neuroscience literature, according to scientists at University of Wisconsin. The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left pre-frontal cortex compared to its right counterpart what gives him an abnormally huge potential for secreting hormones responsible for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.
Though there has been very little research done into the phenomenon, known as “neuroplasticity,” Ricard has been at the forefront of ground-breaking experiments.
He holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Pasteur Institute. After completing his Ph.D. in 1972, Ricard decided to abandon his scientific career and concentrate on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. He lived in the Himalayas studying with the Kangyur Rinpoche and some other great masters of that tradition and became the close student and attendant of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche until his death in 1991. Since then, Dr. Ricard has dedicated his activities to fulfilling Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision. He is the author and photographer of Tibet, An Inner Journey and Monk Dancers of Tibet and, in collaboration, the photobooks Buddhist Himalayas, Journey to Enlightenment and recently Motionless Journey: From a Hermitage in the Himalayas. He is the translator of numerous Buddhist texts, including The Life of Shabkar. The dialogue with his father, Jean-Francois Revel, The Monk and the Philosopher, was a best seller in Europe and was translated into 21 languages, and The Quantum and the Lotus (coauthored with Trinh Xuan Thuan) reflects his long-standing interest in science and Buddhism. His 2003 book Plaidoyer pour le bonheur (published in English in 2006 as Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill) explores the meaning and fulfillment of happiness and was a major best-seller in France.