10 Things You Think Will Make You Happy – But Won’t


Known as ‘The Happiest Man in the World,’ celebrated Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard reveals ten common paradoxes that keep us from living our best lives

Avoid the impulses below, says scholar-healer Matthhieu Ricard, and you’ll be primed for lifelong happiness.

1. Becoming rich, powerful and famous.

2. Treating the universe as if it were a mail-order catalog by expecting it to gratify our every desire.

3. Yearning for the “freedom” to achieve every last wish. This is not freedom, but being the slave of your own thoughts.

4. Seeking too much pleasure. Pleasurable sensations soon become dull, and often become unpleasant.

5. Maliciously taking revenge on someone who has hurt you. By doing so, you become like them and poison your own mind.

6. Assuming that any one thing will make you happy. Such predictions usually don’t turn out to be true.

7. Expecting all praise and no criticism. Without criticism, you won’t progress.

8. To vanquish all your enemies. Animosity never brings happiness.

9. To never face adversity. Refraining from doing so will make you weak and vulnerable.

10. Expending all your effort on taking care of yourself alone. Altruism and compassion are the roots of genuine happiness.

Former geneticist Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, humanitarian and international bestselling author of Why Meditate: Working with Thoughts and Emotions. Visit him on the web at matthieuricard.org.

4 comments so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    I have found that life has more twists and turns than one can believe – with roller coaster aspects that test the strongest of us sorely.   I have found that is of the utmost of importance that we pick and choose our friends, looking for those who see the world through eyes of sunshine, of the positive.  We are never stronger or happier by stooping to the level of those that thrw barbs at us.  More often than not, those people are jealous of how we conduct ourselves – conduct ourselves with dignity, not self indulgent but finding that – inside – we have a largesse of giving to others that is probably the most fulfilling parts of our own lives, making us feel very very good.

    Like it or not, we are constantly learning on the road of life.  Its bumps happen to us all with only the story different.  People don’t want to be around “the poor me” sort of person as most of us could blow others away with our own tales.  But we don’t, unless we see it as a helful mode to make our friend think and also move forward. 

    While situations we have are heartrending, killing, seemingly never ending, we are in far better shape if we take but baby steps forward out of the morasse.  Like the child’s book that tells us “I think I can, I think I can”, we find that if we can make the turns in the road, we can see our own glimpses of sunshine through the clouds . . . and THEN, the rainbow.  The author’s list is more succinct than mine – and perhaps I could add a few more paradoxes – but I believe that his words resound.  . and are crucial to be able to live the good life.

  2. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    Challenges in life make the fruit sweeter. We appreciate the things we have to work for because we know what they cost. This list is very on target for all of us.

  3. avatar Jim Martin says:

    Is this supposed to be news? It sounds like vapid old New Age baloney to me.

    Life is for living, not for channeling into some weird state in which all desires are moderated and controlled, including the desire for revenge when wronged. Frustration is just as valuable an experience as serenity is, particularly when the serenity is unnatural, which it practically always is. That is why I am no longer a Buddhist.

    I’ll keep reading the gloriously human Margo Howard and skip this guy.

  4. avatar BeanCounter says:

    indiscriminatory altruism doesn’t work if the object of your all-giving-goodness is a hateful bunch of A-holes (i.e. most people that I meet).   God, this article was so lame.  Most people will agree with this guy because they honestly don’t want to live their life….they want others to live it for them, so they’ll scream about altruism, hoping to catch a sucker who will pay for their life until they croak.    blech!   I haven’t been this sick since seeing that last Ronald REAGAN film!