Scientists: The World's Happiest Man Is ...
... Matthieu Ricard, a confidant of the Dalai Lama
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2012 2:15 PM CDT
Updated Nov 3, 2012 7:42 AM CDT
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama listens to French Buddhist Matthieu Ricard, left, in Toulouse, France, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011.   (AP Photo/Manuel Blondeau)

(Newser) – French neuroscientists have wired up a confidant of the Dalai Lama and declared him the world's happiest man—or at least the happiest one they know about, the Daily News reports. The brain scans of Matthieu Ricard, a renowned Buddhist thinker, show that his gray matter emits a quantity of gamma waves "never reported before in the neuroscience literature" when he meditates on compassion, a scientist says. Gamma waves are associated with memory, learning, attention, and consciousness.

The tests also showed that his brain's left prefrontal cortex was extremely active, which increases his propensity for happiness and reduces negativity. "It shows that meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree but it completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are," says the 66-year-old Buddhist. He earned a PhD in cell genetics decades ago, but gave up his career for Buddhism, and only emerged in the public eye when his book, The Monk and the Philosopher, became a bestseller.