Hardwiring Happiness

Hardwiring Happiness

The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

Hardwiring Happiness

Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence shows you how to tap the hidden power of everyday experiences to change your brain and your life for the better.


The book has been endorsed by Stephen Porges, Thich Nhat Hanh, Dan Siegel, Kristin Neff, Paul Gilbert, Harville Hendrix, Geneen Roth, Jack Kornfield, Sara Gottfried, Tara Brach, Bill O'Hanlon, Sharon Salzberg, and many others. (See all the endorsements here.)


Using this book, you can beat the brain's negativity bias, which is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. This bias evolved to help ancient animals survive, but today it makes us feel needlessly frazzled, worried, irritated, lonely, inadequate, and blue.


Instead, in just a few seconds at a time in the flow of daily life, you can turn your experiences - the pleasure in a cup of coffee, the accomplishment in finishing a tricky email, the warmth from a friend's smile - into lasting inner strengths built into your brain, such as resilience, balance, and positive emotions.


Grounded in neuroscience, Hardwiring Happiness is super practical, full of easy-to-use methods and guided practices to grow a steady well-being, self-worth, and inner peace. And it has special sections on children, motivation, relationships, trauma, and spiritual practice.


The book also covers managing the Stone Age brain for life in the 21st century. It tells you how to take in experiences of your core needs being met, so that you gradually leave the "red zone" of fight-flight-freeze stress and get centered in the brain's "green zone" in which you feel an ongoing ease, fulfillment, and love - even while you deal with life's challenges.


The process of taking in the good through the four HEAL steps is at the center of Rick Hanson's "Taking in the Good" course. In a recent study with collaborators from the University of California, preliminary findings indicate that people who took the course experienced significantly less anxiety and depression, and significantly greater self-control, savoring, love, gratitude, compassion, contentment, joy, self-compassion, and happiness. To view the public summary of the study, go to http://www.rickhanson.net/tgc-public-summary.


Sample audio practices


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Praise for Hardwiring Happiness


Rick Hanson is a master of his craft, showing us a wise path for daily living in this book. Based in the latest findings of neuroscience, this book reveals that if we understand the brain a little, we can take care of our lives a lot, and make a real difference to our well-being. Here is a book to savor, to practice, and to take to heart.
Mark Williams, Ph.D., Professor, University of Oxford, author of Mindfulness


The cultivation of happiness is one of the most important skills anyone can ever learn. Luckily, it’s not hard when we know the way to water and nourish these wholesome seeds, which are already there in our consciousness. This book offers simple, accessible, practical steps for touching the peace and joy that are every person’s birthright.
Thich Nhat Hanh, author of Being Peace and Understanding Our Mind


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Endorsements


Rick Hanson is a master of his craft, showing us a wise path for daily living in this book. Based in the latest findings of neuroscience, this book reveals that if we understand the brain a little, we can take care of our lives a lot, and make a real difference to our well-being. Here is a book to savor, to practice, and to take to heart.
Mark Williams, Ph.D., Professor, University of Oxford, author of Mindfulness


The cultivation of happiness is one of the most important skills anyone can ever learn. Luckily, it’s not hard when we know the way to water and nourish these wholesome seeds, which are already there in our consciousness. This book offers simple, accessible, practical steps for touching the peace and joy that are every person’s birthright.
Thich Nhat Hanh, author of Being Peace and Understanding Our Mind


In this remarkable book, one of the world's leading authorities on mind training shows how to cultivate the helpful and good within us. In a beautifully written and accessible way, Rick Hanson offers us an inspiring gift of wise insights and compassionate and uplifting practices that will be of enormous benefit to all who read this book. A book of hope and joyfulness.
– Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., O.B.E., Professor, University of Derby, author of The Compassionate Mind


Rick Hanson's new book works practical magic: it teaches you how, in a few seconds, to rewire your brain for greater happiness, peace, and well-being. This is truly a book I wish every human being could read - it's that important. I hope we'll soon be saying to each other, in meetings, over coffee, in crowded subway cars: “Take in the good?”
Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman's Comfort Book


I have learned more about positive psychology from Rick Hanson than from any other scientist. Read this book, take in the good, and change your brain so that you can become the person you were destined to be.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., Professor, University of California at Davis, Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Positive Psychology, author of Gratitude Works! and Thanks!


Hardwiring Happiness provides the reader with a user friendly toolkit to expand feelings of happiness and to functionally erase the profound consequences of negative memories and experiences.
Stephen Porges, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, author of The Polyvagal Theory


Learning to take in the good is like fully and mindfully breathing in life: it allows us to access our inner strengths, creativity, vitality and love. In his brilliant new book, Rick Hanson gives us the fascinating science behind attending to positive experiences, and offers powerful and doable ways to awaken the deep and lasting wellbeing we yearn for.
Tara Brach, Ph.D., author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge


Hardwiring Happiness teaches us the life-affirming skills of inverting our evolutionary bias to hold on to the negative in our lives and instead soak in and savor the positive. What better gift can we give our selves or our loved ones than an effective strategy to increase joy through brain-based steps that are both accessible and pleasurable? Bravo!
Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine, author of Mindsight, The Mindful Brain, and Brainstorm

[faq group="hardwiring-happiness-endorsements"]


Reviews


As the old song goes, the key to happiness is "to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative." You know this, so why in the hell is it always so much easier to laser-in on the bad stuff? In this book, author Rick Hanson explains we're neurologically programmed that way: “The brain is like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones.” He documents all the ways the brain is wired to absorb negativity and deflect positive moments as a survival mechanism. Does that mean we’re doomed to be a bunch of Debbie Downers? Not at all. Using a meditation-based approach, Hanson shows how we can train ourselves to escape our neurology so you’ll be singin’ in the rain versus slogging through it.
Greatist Magazine



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Contents

Publisher’s Note

Acknowledgments

Introduction


Part One: Why

Chapter 1:  Growing Good

Chapter 2:  Velcro for the Bad

Chapter 3:  Green Brain, Red Brain


Part Two: How

Chapter 4:  HEAL Yourself

Chapter 5:  Take Notice

Chapter 6:  Creating Positive Experiences

Chapter 7:  Brain Building

Chapter 8:  Flowers Pulling Weeds

Chapter 9:  Good Uses

Chapter 10: 21 Jewels

Afterword

Reference Notes

Bibliography

Index


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Hardwiring Happiness is available in hardcover, paperback (outside US only), audiobook (CD or download), and numerous eBook formats, including Kindle, iBook, Nook, Google Play, and Books a Million.


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Hardwiring Happiness is available internationally in paperback, audiobook (CD or download), and numerous eBook formats, including Kindle, iBook, Nook, Google Play, and Books a Million.


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Digital/ebook formats


Languages


Hardwiring Happiness in Chinese
(Simplified Chinese Characters)
Beijing Huazhang Graphics and Information Co. Ltd., Beijing


Hardwiring Happiness in Chinese
(Complex Chinese Characters)
Commonwealth Publishing, Taipei


Hardwiring Happiness in Dutch
Kok Ten Have, Netherlands


Hardwiring Happiness in English
Harmony Books (Random House), US
Rider, London, UK


Hardwiring Happiness in Finnish
Basam Books, Helsinki, Finland


Hardwiring Happiness in French
Les Arenes, Paris, France

Hardwiring Happiness in German
Verlagsgruppe Random House (Random House Germany), Munich, Germany


Hardwiring Happiness in Hebrew
Matar Publishing, Tel Aviv


Hardwiring Happiness in Italian
Macro Edizioni, Italy


Hardwiring Happiness in Japanese
Jitsumukyoiku-Shuppan, Tokyo


Hardwiring Happiness in Korean
Dam & Brooks, Seoul, Korea


Hardwiring Happiness in Portuguese
Editora WMF Martins Fontes, Brazil


Hardwiring Happiness in Russian
Publish House EKSMO, Moscow, Russia


Hardwiring Happiness in Spanish
Editorial Sirio, Málaga, Spain



Hardwiring Happiness illustrates how taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience - from the pleasure of a deep breath to a sense of calm, satisfaction, and love - can turn good moments into a great brain, full of strength, health, and happiness. That’s what it means to "take in the good" via the deliberate internalization of positive experience into implicit memory. This method, based on self-directed neuroplasticity, resets the brain to its natural resting state, which refuels and repairs the body, makes us feel peaceful, happy, and loved, and helps us act with confidence and compassion. This deceptively simple practice is at the center of Rick Hanson's "Taking in the Good course." In a study with collaborators from the University of California, preliminary findings (see below) indicate that people who took the course experienced significantly less anxiety and depression, and significantly greater self-control, savoring, love, gratitude, compassion, contentment, joy, self-compassion, and happiness.


Research for Hardwiring Happiness

Hardwiring Happiness was extensively researched and contains 203 reference notes and 187 bibliography entries. You can view the citations here.

 

Preliminary Findings on the Taking in the Good Course

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.


Overview


The Taking in the Good Course - six, 3-hour classes combining presentations, experiential activities, and written materials - teaches participants how to turn passing experiences into lasting inner strengths. The preliminary (not yet peer-reviewed) findings in a recent study conducted in collaboration with faculty from UC Berkeley and UC Davis indicate that people who completed the Taking in the Good Course experienced significantly less anxiety and depression, and significantly greater self-control, savoring, compassion, love, contentment, joy, gratitude, self-compassion, and overall happiness.


Introduction


Resilience, positive emotions, compassion, gratitude, and other inner strengths lower stress, grow well-being and effectiveness, and heal anxiety and depression. Like any other mental capability, inner strengths are supported by structures in the brain. So, how can a person develop the neural networks that support inner strengths?


Through what’s called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” the main way to develop inner strengths is to have experiences of them; repeated feelings of gratitude make a person more grateful. As neuroscientists might say, positive neural traits are built from positive mental states.


But here’s the problem: the brain is bad at learning from good experiences but good at learning from bad ones. In a scientific paper famously titled Bad Is Stronger Than Good, Roy Baumeister and colleagues listed many ways that the human brain has a “negativity bias.” We continually look for negative information, over-react to it, and then quickly store these reactions in brain structure. For example, we learn faster from pain than from pleasure, and negative interactions have more impact on a relationship than positive ones. In effect, our brain is like Velcro for the bad but Teflon for the good. (See Further Reading below for more information.)


This suggests that many of the positive experiences we have in everyday life or in formal trainings are not converted into neural structure: they feel good in the moment but have little lasting value. This negativity bias kept our ancestors alive in tough conditions, but now it’s a “bug” in the Stone Age brain in the 21st century: a bottleneck that blocks good experiences from becoming inner strengths built into neural structure.


The Taking in the Good Course


To address this problem, Dr. Rick Hanson developed the Taking in the Good Course (TGC): six 3-hour classes that combine experiential exercises, presentations, discussion, home practice, and readings. Participants learn how to turn passing experiences into lasting inner strengths through the four step HEAL process: Have a positive experience, Enrich it, Absorb it, and (optional) Link the positive experience to negative material in order to soothe and even replace it. They apply these skills to positive experiences in everyday life, using one or two dozen seconds to take in a moment of relaxation, a sense of accomplishment in finishing a task, or the warmth in a friend’s smile.


During the course, participants “take in the good” (TG) to develop greater overall well-being, as well as to internalize the key resource experiences that address personal issues of stress, anxiety, irritation, frustration, loss, blue mood, loneliness, hurt, or inadequacy. The course aims at three kinds of benefits: (1) growing specific inner strengths; (2) developing the qualities implicit in TG (e.g., kindness toward oneself), and (3) increasingly sensitizing the brain to positive experiences.


Research Findings on the Course


In a pilot study, a battery of psychological tests was administered before and after the course the first two times it was offered (see List of Tests below.) After taking the course, people reported significantly:


• Less anxiety and depression

• More savoring and enjoyment of life, and more gratitude

• Greater mindfulness and better self-control

• More love and self-compassion, and higher self-esteem

• More positive emotions and fewer negative ones

• Greater overall happiness and satisfaction with life


Then, in a formal study, we systematically evaluated the effects of the Taking in the Good course by randomly assigning participants either to the course in the spring of 2013 or to a wait-list to take the course in the summer of 2013. Two months after completing the course, participants had significantly more positive emotions, including joy, contentment, and amusement, as well as significantly greater gratitude, self-compassion, savoring, and satisfaction with life compared to those who had not yet taken it. (Please see the graph just below.)


SatisfactionWithLife


People on the wait-list then took the course in the summer of 2013. In the next step in our analyses, we combined participants from the spring and summer groups, and then compared their scores on the battery of tests before and after completing the course. (We also assessed the stress hormone, cortisol, but found no significant results.) Consistent with the results of the pilot study, after taking the course, people reported significantly:


• Less anxiety and depression

• More able to manage emotions

• More joy, contentment, and other positive emotions

• More love and compassion

• More gratitude

• More self-compassion

• More savoring

• Greater overall happiness


Conclusion


It is possible to teach people how to make good stronger than bad.


Acknowledgements


The investigators in this study included Rick Hanson, Ph.D. (The Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom), Janelle M. Caponigro, M.A. (UC Berkeley), Michael R. Hagerty, Ph.D. (UC Davis), and Ann Kring, Ph.D. (UC Berkeley). Financial support was provided by the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom.


Further Reading


Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K., D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5(4), 323-370. doi: 10.1037//1089-2680.5.4.323

Rozin, P., & Royzman, E. B. (2001). Negativity bias, negativity dominance, and contagion. Personality and Social Psychological Review, 5(4), 296-320.

Hanson, R. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. New York: Harmony Books.


List of Tests


Pilot Study


Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, 1988)

Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI; Bryant, 2003)

Mindfulness and Attention Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003)

Self-Compassion Scale – Short (SCS; Raes, 2011)

Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ; Gross, & John, 2003)

Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6; McCullough et al., 2002)

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES; Rosenberg, 1965)

Personal Growth Initiative Scale (PGIS; Robitscheck, 2009)

Satisfaction With Life Scale (Diener, 1985)

NEO Five-Factor Inventory – Openness Subscale (Costa & McCrae, 1989)

Positive Rumination Scale (Feldman et al., 2008)

Event Reaction Questionnaire (Higgins et al., 2001)

Dispositional Positive Emotion Scales (Shiota et al., 2006)

Psychological Well-Being Scales, select subscales (Ryff, 1998)

Subject Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky, 1999)

Beck Anxiety Inventory (1993)

Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, 1996).


Formal Study


Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, 1988)

Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI; Bryant, 2003)

Mindfulness and Attention Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003)

Self-Compassion Scale – Short (SCS; Raes, 2011)

Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ; Gross, & John, 2003)

Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6; McCullough et al., 2002)

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES; Rosenberg, 1965)

Satisfaction With Life Scale (Diener, 1985)

Positive Rumination Scale (Feldman et al., 2008)

Dispositional Positive Emotion Scales (Shiota et al., 2006)

Subject Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky, 1999)

Beck Anxiety Inventory (1993)

Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, 1996)

Salivary cortisol was assessed through Genova Diagnostics.