Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is about growing inner strengths through positive experiences. It applies the new findings of the brain’s neuroplasticity to our everyday contentment, peace and confidence.
According to Dr. Hanson, the brain has an ancient negativity bias – hardwiring dangerous and traumatic events into our brains for survival reasons. Human’s nervous systems have been evolving for millions of years, and solutions to survival problems faced by our ancient ancestors are still active in our brains today. To balance this bias, the book provides a simple method to put more focus on positive events to build more neural structures full of happiness. These provide inner strength to handle stress, heal psychological wounds, and improve your resilience and well-being.
It’s very good news that we can develop inner strength – we don’t need to be born with it. Because the brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon, Dr. Hanson gives us techniques to rest our minds on good events and conditions, pleasant feelings, physical pleasure, and our good qualities, rather than hurts, worries and self-criticism. The effect will be strength and resilience hardwired into the brain, providing more optimism, a more positive mood and sense of self-worth.
In mere minutes each day, we can use Dr. Hanson’s four simple steps to taking in the good:
1. Have a positive experience.
2. Enrich it.
3. Absorb it.
4. Link positive and negative material.
You may have noticed, the first letter of each step produces the acronym HEAL. The first 3 steps focus on positive experiences to install them in your brain. The 4th step is optional, but powerful in using positive thoughts and feelings to soothe, reduce and potentially replace negative ones.
There are excellent guided visualizations and exercises in the book to experience the three important needs we all have – to feel safe, satisfied and connected. Anyone who chooses to do them will feel their heart chakras open, and fill with love. As Dr. Hanson says, “As you love in ways large and small, the effects will ripple outward to touch others both known and unknown, helping to bring both them and you home to happiness.”
Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. He is also the co-author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom.
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, and Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life