Taking in the Good


How the brain evolved a “negativity bias” that continually looks for, reacts to, and stores negative experiences; how this shapes the interior landscape of the mind, leading to pessimism, depressed and anxious mood, and over-reactions; the neural machinery of memory; how to “trick” that machinery into weaving positive experiences into the brain and the self, leading to greater resilience, happiness, and interpersonal effectiveness; applications to particular situations, including healing trauma, cooperation with medical or psychological treatment, and raising or teaching children.

Short Description

Your brain evolved a negativity bias that makes it like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. Therefore, a foundation for happiness is to deliberately weave positive experiences into the fabric of your brain and your self. We’ll explore the three steps that actually do this, plus the optional fourth step for healing old pain.

Long Description

Taking in the Good – Weaving Positive Emotions, Optimism, and Resilience into the Brain and Self
Developmental psychology, psychodynamic theory, and positive psychology all stress the importance of acquiring internal resources such as basic trust, optimism, and a positive mood. In our clients, we want to encourage self-soothing, emotional regulation, and resilience; we want the learning from their steps toward growth to “stick to their ribs.”

The question is: How to actually do this? Particularly given the challenge of the brain’s negativity bias, which preferentially scans for, reacts to, stores, and recalls negative information about oneself and one’s world. The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones; the natural result is a growing – and unfair – residue of emotional pain, pessimism, and numbing inhibition in implicit memory.

In this clinically focused and practical workshop, Rick Hanson shows how to use the brain’s machinery of memory to get at the essence of beneficial change in psychotherapy and any other process of personal growth: the internalization of positive experiences. Drawing on recent discoveries about neuroplasticity, he will present a simple, four step process that weaves positive experiences into the structure of the brain and the fabric of the self. Participants will practice this method with different applications and client populations.

Learning Objectives

Attendees will be able to:

  • Explain the brain’s mechanisms of neuroplasticity and the opportunity they offer for building positive resources within oneself
  • Describe the evolutionary basis of the brain’s negativity bias, and its consequences for both therapeutic practice and daily life
  • Summarize the three steps of “taking in the good” (TIG)
  • Integrate the fourth step to heal painful experiences
  • Specify how to adapt TIG for children, trauma, and everyday life