“Your spirit is not infinite: if you stop taking care of it, you will lose it”

He says he has been explaining the same concepts for 18 years.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 10:23
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“Your spirit is not infinite: if you stop taking care of it, you will lose it”

He says he has been explaining the same concepts for 18 years. And it's probably true. But that does not prevent his legion of followers from growing day after day, which means that his speech not only convinces new generations, but continues to seduce previous ones. For example, a button. Victor Küppers (Eindhoven, 1970), doctor in Humanities, graduate in Business Administration and leading lecturer in the world of positive psychology, had planned to hold a single conference on March 12 - at 8:30 p.m. - at the Coliseum theater in Barcelona . This is at least what the company that organized the event, Mentes Expertas, had foreseen. But the speed with which the tickets were sold out was such (and the theater has a capacity of more than 1,000 seats) that they had to schedule a second one. The time? Unattractive: 4:30 p.m. Despite this, another packed to the brim. What makes Küppers so attractive to the audience? La Vanguardia wanted to ask him.

How do you explain the Küppers phenomenon, which never stops filling auditoriums wherever it goes?

We live in a society that has so many problems and worries that people listen to anyone who talks about joy and excitement. I also have to say that I have been doing this for 18 years and I think there is a bubble.

What is it referring to?

There is a bubble of speakers and conferences. Before, I'm talking about five or six years ago, there wasn't so much ego, so much manager or so much nonsense. We lecturers have believed that we are more important than those who listen to us. Furthermore, this bubble is demagogic. There are those who verbalize messages like: “If you want, you can”; “You have to fight to be happy”; "Do what you love"; “Chase your dreams”… There is a demagogic bubble of conferences on happiness, when positive psychology is not demagoguery, but a science.

Is this why you avoid using the word happiness in your talks?

There is a phrase that I really like that says that being happy is not being happy. We can't always be happy, things don't always go well. Satisfaction with life does not have to do with happiness, but with serenity, effort, joy, kindness... In short, with the way of being. It is true, we cannot always be happy, but we can be proud of being who we are. I believe in being a good person, in helping others, and you can do all this whether you are happy or not. Pursuing happiness is complicated because life has a very large part of suffering.

Is that why you say that the greatest achievement one can aspire to is to be a good person?

Yes. Furthermore, it is what will make us feel the best, the most rewarding. And I'm not saying it, those who know say it. Do you want to feel good and live with joy? Try to be a good person and help others, make their lives more pleasant. It's what will really make you feel good.

Seen this way, it has a point of selfishness: "I help others to feel good."

The French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard explains it very well. He asked himself: “Who are you doing it for, for yourself or for the other person?” And he came to the conclusion that if you do it for a third party it is not selfishness, although it is true that the consequence is that you feel better, without being the main objective. Altruism is not selfish.

His conference was titled 'Living with joy'. Is this possible to do?

We have to fight to try to live with joy, although it is not always possible. What we cannot do is resign ourselves. If you are discouraged, if you have lost hope, if you don't enjoy your work, if you are just waiting for the weekend to arrive... you can't settle, you have to react. Maybe it is normal in the world we live in, but it is not normal. The day a person assumes that discouragement is normal, they do nothing to change it. You resign yourself. The experts say it, and I believe it.

But not all discouragements have the same root.

TRUE. There are two types of problems. Some correspond to the "drama" category, because life has dramas. You have one? You have the right not to smile, to not have spirit, joy. I call the other type of problems "circumstances to be resolved", and when a person has this type of setbacks and not dramas, they are lucky. You have to learn to relativize.

“Your spirit is not infinite: if you don't take care of it, you will lose it,” you say.

There has to be an effort on our part, basically because the environment tends to be discouraged. We must make an effort to choose our best attitudes, although you will not always succeed. I have been talking about attitude for 18 years and it is also difficult for me. But that is the challenge, trying to choose your best attitude regardless of the circumstances. There is the right to be angry, yes. Relief is therapeutic, but it has to last for a reasonable amount of time.

Furthermore, our attitude – you say – depends on us, it is not something genetic, as intelligence is.

There is an author called Stephen Covey, who for me is the best I have read and known, who explains that between what happens to you and your reaction there is a space, and there is our freedom. In that space is where you have to try to choose your best attitude. Intelligence either affects you or it doesn't; but we can choose the attitude. However, it is not easy at all.

Hence the importance you give to managing discouragement.

David Hamilton [PhD in organic chemistry who researches kindness as therapy] says that the quickest, easiest and most effective way to live with joy is to be kind to everyone. It's a fantastic way to live in a society where we are becoming less and less kind. There is a phrase that I really like, that I have read from some author and that says: “Do not speak badly to anyone or about anyone.” Just by being kind, you already have a little more encouragement. Obviously, there are also more things, of course. I greatly defend a sense of humor. We need to get together with people who have it and develop ours. Also stop from time to time, so as not to be dragged by what surrounds us. It is looking for moments for pause, for reflection. We live in the showcase society.

What does it mean?

I was saying it to my students the other day [he teaches some classes at the University of Barcelona]: in our society what you look counts more than what you are. It is the society of pretending, of appearing, of exhibiting, of the fictitious, of the packaging, of Instagram... We worry more about what they will think of us, about our image, than about stopping to think about how we want to live, what is going well for me and what No…

One day he told me that you only explain what you truly believe.

Yes. There are things that are very complicated to carry out. There is an author that I greatly admire who explains that if you meditate for 35 minutes in the morning and 35 in the afternoon it will change your life. And yes, I believe in meditation, but I don't think that everyone is in a position to have that time every day, which is why I don't explain it in my lectures. There are other concepts that at first did not convince me, and that is why I did not spread them, and now I am clear that they are basic and I explain them. One of them, being sensitive to other people's pain. For me, volunteering should be a mandatory subject in schools. It forces you to relativize problems. When you volunteer, you bring out the best in you.