Does being happy make you a better leader?

If life could resemble a stock exchange, then happiness would be trading in epic proportions at all times. Enthroned on the highest threshold, a veil of mystery surrounds its multiple interpretations and myriads of ways of expression. Yet it cannot be bought by even the grandest of riches. Free-spirited, precious and fragile, happiness is the most wanted quality in the quest for harmonious living. One can never cease to wonder, ultimately, where does true happiness abide?

In the endless pursuit of the holy grail of happiness, some of us have come to believe that it lies well-hidden in faraway destinations. Others, may be convinced that it entails lifetime spiritual journeys, religiously practicing certain dogmas or following miraculous prescriptions. A lucky few instinctively come to the realisation that happiness can be found and celebrated by simply being present and active in blissful moments of everyday life. Amidst the various hypotheses and theorisations, one thing is definite - happiness flourishes where love grows.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in his book The Art of Happiness, shares: "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." In the many teachings of ancient wisdom, compassion is the mighty 'glue' that holds the world together, the highest virtue to conquer, and the source of all goodness upon earth.

"I want to say without hesitation that the purpose of our lives is happiness". Happiness as a natural right and fundamental aspiration of humans, according to the philosophy of the Dalai Lama, is more determined by one’s state of mind than the occurrence of external events. Along the trail of self-discovery and centred awareness, the essentials leading to happiness are to be found in the dynamics of a disciplined mind, inner calmness, a sustained positive mental attitude and adopting the classic value of kindness as the basis of our behaviour and habits.

During the last few years, a new trend has emerged in the business world - wellbeing. There seems to be a collective re-awakening, an acceptance of basic human needs and values, gradually moving on to loosening up meaningless rules and stiff stereotypes. The quest for happiness has decisively entered sophisticated work spaces of the modern era.

Read: Why don't we do what makes us happier? 

This has seen a holistic approach to entrepreneurship adopted, one that can see with absolute clarity the role of happiness and wellbeing in our lives, as well as encouraging the easy flow of creativity, collaboration and freedom of expression within work environments. Related values such as professional accomplishment, rewards and fulfilment reshape and assume new meaning once we accept happiness as part of the 'success-equation'.

Someone might even argue that it does not take a whole different approach to seek and locate happiness across the various spheres of our life. There is a point of balance where the dividing lines blur, and our two seemingly separate identities - personal and professional - merge under the general scheme of life and our place in it. We may even push questioning further and dare to ask: Do genuinely happy and compassionate people make better and more impactful leaders, entrepreneurs, employees and team-mates? Are happy people the true humanitarians of this world?

Moreover, is happiness an art or a science? Is it a cultivated habit or a basic instinct inherent to human nature? Does it shape itself as peaceful reflections, inner contentment or does it brave to follow upon the steep steps of high-octane feelings?

Neuroscientists have cast their vote and following a 12-year study, Matthieu Ricard [above] has the privilege of being the happiest man alive. A Parisian intellectual and molecular biologist that left it all behind to take on the life of a Buddhist monk out on a very special mission - to discover the secrets of true purpose in life, decipher the essence of well-being and fulfilment, and ultimately uncover the path to real happiness.

For Ricard, happiness is a decision entirely depending on one’s choice of purpose in life and can be perceived as a cultivated habit, a skill that can be acquired through persistent practice. The technology to accomplish this is mind training, meditation, gradually altering our attitude and repaving the way that we interpret the world that surrounds us. Re-educating ourselves entails managing our emotional balance, nurturing our altruistic feelings and come to the realisation that our central purpose is to be of service to the world.

When he doesn’t travel the globe sharing the keys to a truly flourishing life, he retreats back to the serenity of his hermitage on the mountaintops of Nepal. There, enlightened by the mystical inspiration that surrounds him, Matthieu Ricard writes books, fusing the principles of ancient wisdom with scientific inquiry, laying the bridges between the East and West. Amidst his various interests, he is also a talented photographer, capturing the hauntingly beautiful scenery across the Himalayan region... inviting us all to view life through the 'lens' of benevolence, compassion, joy, pure passion and solidarity.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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