Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill

by Matthieu Ricard

From Publishers Weekly
For millennia, philosophers, writers and artists have sought the key to human happiness. A Buddhist monk and former cell biologist, Ricard offers his own musings about the nature of happiness and tips on how to attain it in his sometimes tedious, sometimes dynamic guide. Happiness, for Ricard, cannot be found in fleeting experiences of pleasure—the joy of a sunny day, the refreshing taste of an ice cream cone, the ecstasy of sex—but only in the depths of an individual's being. Happiness is not self-interested, but rather compassionate, seeking the well-being of others. If we are truly happy, writes Ricard, we can change the world because of our compassion for others and our desire to end hatred and bring happiness even to those we don't like. For Ricard, happiness is a deep state of well-being and wisdom that flourishes in every moment of life, despite the inevitability of suffering. Individuals can, however, learn to minimize suffering in life by practicing moderation in all things, as well as meditation. Meditative exercises that individuals can practice to achieve happiness appear in each chapter. Ricard (Tibet: A Compassionate Eye) doesn't have much new to tell us about his subject, but he imbues these reflections with his own deep sense of happiness and verve. (Apr. 12)
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