My current main themes for contemplation are all revolving around awareness and the way we can choose where and how to focus our attention. You can see the world as revolving around you and take everything personally, or you can decide that other people have their own issues and problems and that their actions, however annoying at times, might be coming from the same place as your own frustrations and worries.
Compassion is not just some high-minded flaky concept that Buddhist monks and New Age hippies bandy about, it’s a very practical way to operate in a world that is incredibly stressful for just about everyone. So says Matthieu Ricard, a former molecular geneticist and buddhist monk, also known as the happiest man in the world. With functional brain scanning technology it is now possible to see what is going on in the brain as it happens, Ricard was hooked up to one of these machines and asked to meditate on compassion. There was an increase in gamma rays which are associated with consciousness, attention, learning and memory. There was also a lot of activity in his left prefrontal cortex which indicates a huge capacity for happiness, this man is very unlikely to making negative choices about his experience. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/10/29/buddhist-monk-declared-worlds-happiest-man/
There is so much evidence these days that shows that we can change our neurology, and the good news is that you don’t have to spend hours in meditation every day to do it. Whatever time you can find for that kind of activity will be time well spent, but it’s also about the myriad of choices that you make every day about how you are going to perceive your current experience. Keep making positive choices and that positivity will begin to accumulate and eventually you will begin to change your default settings to happiness and joy.
This video is an excerpt from a speech made to a graduating class of college students in America and is a refreshing take on what education is all about, it’s exactly the sort of thing that ought to be taught in schools. It manages not only to convey meaning most concisely, it’s also very entertaining and if you are interested you can check out the whole speech.