I really like this photograph, not just because everybody in it is so handsome, but also the story it represents.
Once upon a time, there were three highly talented young men who wanted to serve the world and who became close friends with each other. Their names were Danny, Richie and Jon. When they grew up, they each became world-famous in their own unique ways, but the success of each one beautifully complemented the success of the other two and, together, their combined work may change the world.
Danny is Daniel Goleman,. He became a highly successful author who popularized Emotional Intelligence for the world, thereby illuminating the importance of emotions in school, at the workplace and everywhere else. Richie is Richard J. Davidson. He became a highly respected scientist who, among numerous achievements, founded the field of Contemplative Neuroscience and gave the world much of the science behind contemplative practices, thereby illuminating the power of meditation in a scientific way. Jon is Jon Kabat-Zinn. He became the first person to bring Mindfulness into mainstream medicine, thereby illuminating the transformative power of Mindfulness in real life in a modern Western context, and in the process, pushing Mindfulness into mainstream modern culture.
Together, Danny, Richie and Jon illuminated a path towards a next possible step of humanity’s evolution. When humanity discovered industrialization, some of us went from “poor” to “not poor”, and in the process, went from “miserable” to “not miserable”. We then decided that if we just continued doing more of what we did, namely producing and consuming more and more stuff, thereby going from “not poor” to “rich”, we can go from “not miserable” to “happy”.
But it turns out things don’t work that way. On an individual level, when you go from poor to “not poor”, which some studies suggest is an income of around $60,000 per year for an average American family, your level of happiness increases very significantly. But when your income goes from that $60,000 per year to a much higher number, your level of happiness doesn’t change very much. It turns out that having more material wealth makes you happier when you are poor, but when you are already out of poverty, having more doesn’t make you happier, an entirely different approach is required. The way to increase happiness from that point is doing the inner work of cultivating emotional well-being and increasing inner peace and happiness, and the external work of cultivating loving and satisfying social relationships.
This key insight may be the next step in our evolution, and Danny, Richie and Jon illuminated the path. They are not the only ones doing it, but they were among the earliest in this culture, they bore most of the risk of being pioneers, and they are among the most successful (due perhaps to their extraordinary talent). And just to make for a good story for the movie, they were also close friends since young. All three of them are not just my friends, they are also my heroes.
I added myself to the picture because I feel that my work would have been impossible without any one of them. If Danny hadn’t popularized Emotional Intelligence, or Richie hadn’t pioneered the neuroscience, or Jon hadn’t introduced Mindfulness into the mainstream, Search Inside Yourself would likely never be successful. I stand on the shoulders of giants. I’m happy for them that I’m not too fat. At least not yet.