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How to be happy 0: what is happiness? What are GREATMinds?

“Everybody wants a happy life and a peaceful mind, but we have to produce peace of mind through our own practice.” -Dalai Lama

When I ask couples what they want from each other they often reflexivity say that they want the other person to make them happy. I often gently point out that this is beyond the others person’s ability; they might have it in their power to not create unhappiness in you, but getting happy, or finding happiness is your own responsibility. It means attuning yourself to your own path, which is another way of saying deepening into your life.

What is happiness? Is it a boat along the Norfolk Broads, sunset in Santorini, a pistachio ice cream or a cool beer on a hot summers day? Perhaps these things make us feel happy, sure, or bring us pleasure, indeed, but happiness itself? I think that’s something else.

I like Matthieu Ricard’s description of happiness: “a deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind…an optimal state of being”. This seems to transcend pleasure-perhaps also pain-and our desire for power, influence, fame, celebrity and certainty.

How do we then, flourish?

I’m exploring happiness in these blogs, what it could be, and in order to navigate the territory I’ve developed a tentative map (if you read this upside down i.e. the last blog first, which we do when we read blogs, it might have changed somewhat from now).

I use the acronym GREATMinds, standing for

  • Gratitude and savouring
  • Relationships
  • Exploration
  • Attitude and Acceptance
  • Transcendence and beauty
  • Mindfulness

Let’s see how this develops…….


Matthieu Ricard Happiness Atlantic Books

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