Rick Hanson

I am a psychologist and have written and taught about the essential inner skills of personal well-being, psychological growth, and contemplative practice – as well as about relationships, family life, and raising children.

I grew up in a loving and stable family, mainly in the suburbs of Los Angeles; my mother was a homemaker and administrator, and my father was a zoology professor. A shy and bookish kid who loved the outdoors, I entered UCLA at 16 and graduated summa cum laude in 1974 (and was honored to be one of four “outstanding seniors” chosen by the UCLA Alumni Association). Over the next several years, I founded a successful seminar company, worked for a mathematician doing probabilistic risk analyses for things like the odds of a nuclear power plant melting down, and did management consulting. After working on a Masters in developmental psychology at San Francisco State University, I received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute in 1991, with a dissertation titled, “Gratifying control: Mothers offering alternatives to toddlers.”

My clinical practice (now closed to new clients) has included adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults. I have worked in several independent schools, and have given many talks to meetings of parents or child development specialists. I served on the Board of FamilyWorks, a family resource agency in Marin County, and chaired it for two years. I am a former Trustee of Saybrook University.

My first book, Mother Nurture: A Mother’s Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, (co-authored with my wife, Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac., an acupuncturist specializing in clinical nutrition, and Ricki Pollycove, M.D., an OB-GYN), was published by Penguin in 2002. Many related articles and other resources can be found at www.NurtureMom.com. Jan and I have two adult children, and being parents has been the most fulfilling experience of our lives.

As we’ve learned so much more about the brain over the past twenty years, I’ve been deeply interested in the historically unprecedented meeting of modern neuroscience and ancient contemplative practices. With Rick Mendius, M.D., I founded the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. The Institute publishes the monthly Wise Brain Bulletin,  and hosts the www.WiseBrain.org website.


In 2009, I wrote Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom (with Rick Mendius, M.D.; foreword by Dan Siegel, M.D.; preface by Jack Kornfield, Ph.D.). The book shows readers many effective ways to “light up” the brain circuits that relieve worry and stress, and promote positive relationships and inner peace.

In 2011, I wrote Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Timewhich presents 52 powerful yet down-to-earth practices for building up a “buddha brain” for more peace of mind in stressful times, and a deep sense of contentment and confidence.

My fourth book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, was published in 2013 and became a New York Times bestseller. It shows how to tap the hidden power of everyday experiences to change your brain and your life for the better.

My book after that, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness, was published in 2018. It explains how to use positive neuroplasticity to develop 12 vital inner strengths – such as grit, gratitude, and compassion – in order to cope with challenges, pursue opportunities, and find lasting well-being in a changing world. It’s based on my online program – the Foundations of Well-Being – an experiential journey of personal healing and growth.

My latest book, Neurodharma: New Science, Ancient Wisdom, and Seven Practices of the Highest Happiness (May 2020), is a follow-up to my first book, Buddha’s Brain. In it, I share seven practices for strengthening the neural circuitry of profound contentment and inner peace—qualities that offer essential support in everyday life while supporting the exploration of the most radical reaches of human consciousness. It is the basis for my Neurodharma Online Program, released in 2019.

In 2021, my paper on positive brain change appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Positive Psychology, December 6, 2021.

A recurring theme in my work is the need for mental resources such as mindfulness, self-compassion, and positive emotions. We acquire these resources through learning, but there has been remarkably little attention paid to the actual “how” of growing such inner strengths. So I developed the online Positive Neuroplasticity Training to teach the general methods of self-directed brain change, and the related online Professional Course in applying these methods when working with others, such as in psychotherapy, coaching, and human resources training.

I’m a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and have been invited to speak at NASA as well as at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, and other major universities. My books have been endorsed by leading scholars, meditation teachers, and self-help experts, including Thich Nhat Hanh, Lori Gottlieb, Stephen Porges, Tara Brach, Kristin Neff, Jack Kornfield, Lori Deschene, Dan Siegel, Harville Hendrix, Steven Hayes, Geneen Roth, Robert Emmons, Paul Gilbert, Mark Williams, Sharon Salzberg, Roman Krznaric, Jim Doty, Jennifer Loudon, Stan Tatkin, Michael Singer, Paul Gilbert, Christine Carter, Frank Ostaseski, Philip Zelazo, Jerome Engel, Christina Feldman, Shauna Shapiro, Ruby Wax, Joseph Goldstein, Roger Walsh, Shawn Achor, Joan Borysenko, Jim Gordon, Dacher Keltner, Daniel Levitin, and Deepak Chopra.

I have a free weekly e-newsletter, Just One Thing, which offers a simple practice taking only a few minutes to help you feel greater happiness, love, and wisdom. I have created a number of online programs and courses and my YouTube channel has many free talks, interviews, and guided experiential practices.

I began meditating in 1974 and have studied and practiced in several traditions. At the end of 2008, I completed a nine-year term on the Board of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. A graduate of their Community Dharma Leader training program, I lead a weekly meditation group in San Rafael, California, and I’ve taught at major meditation centers around the world.

My personal interests include rock-climbing, sailing, novels, travel – I lived one year in Finland and one in Germany – and having fun with family and friends. You can reach me through my administrator by using this form.

For more information, please see my Summary CV or Full CV.





Get Dr. Rick Hanson’s free newsletter for a variety of tips, practices, videos, meditations, and other helpful resources you can use in everyday life to grow the good that lasts.

Newsletter Selection*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and expert on the impact of toxic narcissism. She is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

The focus of Dr. Ramani’s clinical, academic, and consultative work is the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. She has spoken on these issues to clinicians, educators, and researchers around the world.

She is the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, and Don't You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Her work has been featured at SxSW, TEDx, and on a wide range of media platforms including Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, and Bravo, and she is a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula’s research on personality disorders has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she is a Consulting Editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, which represents approximately twenty-thousand biobehavioral scientists. He’s led a number of other organizations and received a wide variety of professional awards.

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological states in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders, and has had a major impact on the field of psychology.

Dr. Porges has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across a wide array of disciplines. He’s also the author of several books including The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.

Dr. Bruce Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. From 1993 to 2001 he was the Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital.

He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of trauma in childhood, and his work on the impact of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. His work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.

Dr. Perry's most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released earlier this year. Dr. Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Additionally, he’s authored more than 300 journal articles and book chapters and has been the recipient of a variety of professional awards.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma and issues of race. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and then received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness, or foster care.

Dr. Briscoe-Smith is also a senior fellow of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is both a professor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute. She provides consultation and training to nonprofits and schools on how to support trauma-informed practices and cultural accountability.

Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She is widely considered one of the most influential individuals in bringing mindfulness practices to the West, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts alongside Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Sharon has been a student of Dipa Ma, Anagarika Munindra, and Sayadaw U Pandita alongside other masters.

Sharon has authored 10 books, and is the host of the fantastic Metta Hour podcast. She was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine, had her work featured in Time and on NPR, and contributed to panels alongside the Dalai Lama.

Rick Hanson, PhD is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His books have been published in 29 languages and include NeurodharmaResilient, Hardwiring HappinessBuddha’s BrainJust One Thing, and Mother Nurture – with 900,000 copies in English alone. His free newsletters have 215,000 subscribers and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial need. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, NPR, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and is the founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He and his wife live in northern California and have two adult children. He loves wilderness and taking a break from emails.

Get the Just One Thing
Weekly Newsletter

A simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

You can unsubscribe at any time and your email address will never be shared.