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Maria Gonzalez Blog
Mindful Leadership

You’re Successful, but Are You Happy?

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I hear from so many people that they are undoubtedly successful by all external measures, but, they are not happy.  This appears to be, unfortunately, the malaise of our times.  These are unprecedented times of material abundance and inner poverty.  The response of many people to this unhappiness or unease is to accumulate more, to work even harder on exterior success.  It is as if focusing on the exterior (more toys, a bigger job, another home, etc.) will somehow compensate for the unhappiness, or emptiness they feel.

To experience true and sustainable happiness one needs to work on inner refinement.  True and lasting happiness exists only within.  In fact, true happiness is independent of conditions.  To say that one is happy, no matter what is going on, or what the circumstances might be, is true richness.  That is real success.  And this only comes from being at peace with oneself, being able to look in the mirror and like what you see.  There is a real inner beauty and peace that comes from having purified one’s habitual patterns, that get in the way of happiness.

And, most interesting of all, is that external success and inner happiness are not in conflict.  One can have both.  The key, however, is that external success can not come at the expense of inner happiness.  If the balance is tipped and external measures take over one’s priorities, happiness or inner well being, will soon wane and eventually disappear.

The sustainable strategy is to ensure that there is daily attention paid to inner refinement, in the midst of your work and life’s activities.  This could be formal mind training where you sit in stillness, or walking in nature, or spending time being present with music, etc.  It takes daily cultivation to be most effective.  And in so doing, you also become more effective in everything else you do.  You will find inspiration will arise naturally, and solutions to problems will spontaneously become evident.

Matthieu Ricard did a wonderful TED Talk on Happiness.  He is a French cellular geneticist turned Buddhist monk, who is also the Dalai Lama’s French translator.  He has been coined as the “happiest person in the world”, according to neuroscientists who have studied his brain.  Having spent over 120 hours in MRIs, his brain has been studied more than that of any other being.  He contends that happiness is a habit that can be cultivated and comes from doing significant inner work.


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