Frankfurt: Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, the Vice-Chairman of Mata Amritanandamayi Math and President of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, delivered the keynote address at an international youth conference held in Kirchbrombach, Germany. Attended by more than 400 youth dignitaries and participants, the conference was on the topic “The Science of Happiness.”
In his address, Swami Amritaswarupananda said, “The Science of Happiness, otherwise known as Positive Psychology, is ultimately the study of those things that make life worth living. Instead of analysing ‘What’s wrong with me?’ as psychology encouraged for decades, the focus has been slowly shifting to ‘What makes me flourish? What exactly do I want out of life? How can I become a better and happier person?”
He stressed to the European youth the difference between temporary experiences of happiness versus happiness as a core state of being: “If your goal is only to have sensations of happiness, then whatever you are currently doing is more than enough. However, if you are looking for true happiness, then a change in your perception of the world is necessary.”
The address was followed by a panel discussion on the topics of mental health and personal empowerment, and of education’s role in fostering emotional and social intelligence. Discussion participants included Mette Bjerkaas, Head of Education for the United Nations Associations of Norway; Simon Kuany, Specialist on Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education at UNESCO MGIEP; Emma Kenny, a United Kingdom TV psychologist and writer; and four youth delegates.
The Conference marked the culmination of the 14th European Youth Summit—a weeklong exploration and celebration of the theme “Generation of Peace.” It comprised talks, workshops, sharing groups, and community-building projects and mindfulness activities such as yoga, meditation and tai-chi.
Meditation was another topic addressed by the Swami. In a second talk, titled “Peace Within Oneself,” the head disciple of Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi, said, “The unhealthy thoughts, emotions and relationships are like a toxin. Through meditation, you can detoxify your mind, which will make room to build wholesome relationships. As Amma says, ‘This is the age of the Internet, but don’t forget the “Inner-Net.” Otherwise, you will always remain lonely—even if you are in a crowd.”
“For most people, peace is an intermission between multiple periods of turbulence,” he added. “Before and after, due to our obsession with the past, we remain in total chaos. In between, we see a fleeting streak of peace. None of our efforts to find peace in the external world will succeed until we find peace within ourselves.”
He also encouraged the youngsters to set aside some hours each week to engage in selfless and compassionate service. “The most important thing is to remember to create more space within yourself for others. Let the light of love blaze in your heart.”
The Conference’s aim was to connect young people who desire to contribute to an inclusive, happier and more peaceful society. Participants were invited to strengthen their sense of identity and leadership, while experiencing the joy and empowerment of living and learning together with likeminded youth from around the world.
“We wanted to bring high-level speakers together to discuss not only how youngsters can experience happiness and contentment in their personal daily lives, but also how they can then carry that happiness out into the world,” said AYUDH Europe’s Director, Andreas Hirsch. “Youth from all over Europe attended and had a tremendously positive and impactful experience. Many of them really resonated with Swamiji’s message of how you can only truly create peace in the world if you have peace within yourself.”