Hardwiring Happiness Book Summary By Rick Hanson

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Hardwiring Happiness is an invaluable and informative book that provides insights on how to take control of your life.

Written by Dr.

Rick Hanson in 2013, the book not only encourages positive thinking but also provides scientifically backed explanation of the neuroscience behind happiness and how it can be reprogrammed.

It shows how readers can adapt their thought process and focus on all the good things happening around them rather than dwelling upon the negative aspects of life.

Through his thoughtful analysis and extensive research, Dr.

Hanson helps us all understand why we should strive for a happier state of mind.

Hardwiring Happiness Book

Book Name: Hardwiring Happiness (The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence)

Author(s): Rick Hanson

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Categories: Mindfulness & Happiness

Author Bio

Rick Hanson is the brains behind the book Hardwiring Happiness.

He's an accomplished author, having written numerous works such as Just One Thing, Buddha’s Brain and Mother Nurture.

As if that wasn't enough credentials, he has a PhD in psychology as well!

He's not only an accomplished author, but also a beloved speaker and coach.

His knowledge of how the brain can make human beings happier and better is second-to-none; readers love him for his direct and personal style when discussing the topic of happiness.

If you want to learn about how to 'hardwire' happiness into your life, Rick Hanson is definitely the go-to person for advice!

How To Overcome Your Negativity Bias And Cultivate Happiness

Negativity Bias

Most of us are drawn to negative information due to something called the negativity bias – a built-in tendency to focus on all the things that bother us and ignore everything that makes us feel good.

But there is hope.

In Hardwiring Happiness you will learn about your own personalized a n t i d o t e for your negativity bias and how to use it in order to be happier.

You will understand why positive feedback often doesn’t stick in your mind, as well as how our brain is wired for protection and why this can provoke sadness when we’re feeling down.

You’ll even discover hints from science on how to get back up on your feet through recollection of sweet tastes such as chocolate!

How A “Sad Amygdala” Makes Us Dwell On Negative Experiences And Stunts Our Progress

Research shows that your capability to focus on either positive or negative thoughts depends on the structure of your brain.

Your amygdala, in particular, is what’s largely responsible for driving you to feel happy or sad.

If you have a “happy amygdala,” then it will heavily stimulate your nucleus accumbens – the part of the brain that encourages us to achieve our goals.

People with these amygdalas tend to stay optimistic, looking at opportunities rather than focusing on any difficulties.

Ultimately, this positivity helps strengthen our determination and makes us more likely to create positive experiences and receive good feedback from our brains.

Unfortunately, many people have a “sad amygdala.” This tends to trigger fear-based reactions which ultimately make us anxious, edgy and filled with cortisol and adrenaline in our bloodstreams.

Overall though, studies suggest that people tend to focus more on the negative rather than the positive – even if there are great compliments or praise given out when in a situation such as receiving job evaluations.

We’re wired this way, so we’re naturally drawn towards hostile faces or glares over a friendly smile far too easily.

Rewiring The Brain For Happiness: How Our Experiences Can Physically Alter Our Minds

The fascinating thing about the human brain is that it is constantly changing and evolving.

Thanks to neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire’s 2000 study, we know that depending on the experiences someone has they can physically change the structure of their brain.

For instance, London taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus (the area responsible for memory and visual-spatial orientation) due to the intense memorization required for their job.

This overdevelopment of specific neurons in this area of the brain demonstrate how our brains are ever-evolving and adapting to our experiences – just like a muscle getting stronger from exercise.

However, psychologist Wil Cunningham found in 2013 that children who grow up with neglectful parents can develop something called “sad amygdala,” which makes them more prone to feeling unhappy and anxious.

Fortunately, through exercises such as mental imagination therapy, Stanley Schachter was able to help people “rewire” their brains towards happiness by strengthening their ability to feel joy again through positive reinforcement.

This goes to show us how changeable the human brain really is; with different experiences having an impact on how your brain evolves – it could be either positive or negative depending on what you put it exposed to.

How Our Evolved Fear Of Death Impacts Our Modern Lives

Modern Lives

It is easy to see why a stressful situation, no matter the scale, can feel like it’s a life or death situation for us.

Afterall, human beings are a product of millions of years of evolution.

Our brains were originally shaped to be hyper-vigilant – suspecting danger at every turn and alerting us to the potential risks that we face each day.

This explains why even the smallest of stressors in modern life can cause our brains to go into overdrive.

From an unfriendly face on the street, a loud noise in an unexpected places, or even a speeding car; these all evoke feelings of danger and threaten our safety with an intensity that seems overly exaggerated but was actually largely necessary in order to survive 10,000 years ago when one out of every 8 people faced violent attacks.

The Hardwiring Happiness book by Rick Hanson delves deeper into this topic.

The author shows us how evolution has created a brain that zooms in on all the small stressors of modern life as if they were serious threats to our very own existence, making us constantly stressed and worried regardless of whether we are faced with some kind of genuine danger or not.

How To Overcome The Negativity Bias And Reap The Benefits Of Positive Input

We all have something in common – a tendency to focus more on the negative aspects of life.

This phenomenon is known as the negativity bias, and it shows up in our everyday lives; think about how news reports love to start off with attention-grabbing bad news stories like earthquakes or violent crimes.

But this tendency doesn’t just play out in nightly reviews.

The negativity bias affects us emotionally and physiologically, too: Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released into our blood when we’re exposed to negative input, which causes us to enter a state of anxiety.

In turn, that can lead to reactions like road rage or even shouting matches with co-workers.

On the flip side, positive input can prove helpful for avoiding all of this stress – taking a trip down to nature can do wonders for calming down the nervous system by slowing the heart rate, reducing blood pressure and facilitating digestion.

By doing this, we actively counteract the negativity bias that affects us everyday and maximize our happiness potential so that we can feel relaxed instead of anxious.

Experience The Joy Of Everyday Life By Finding Positive Input Throughout Your Day

We can be consciously on the lookout for positive aspects in life.

In Hardwiring Happiness, it suggests small actions that we can take to bring more happiness into our lives, such as pausing and recognizing accomplishments and taking some time at the beginning of each day to open the window, take a breath of fresh air, and remind ourselves that we are fortunate.

It also recommends setting up a Good Year box where you jot down one good thing which happened at the end of each day and put it in the box so that when you open it at the end of a year, you’ll be positively surprised.

Additionally, taking some time every morning to focus on something positive helps let go of any negative thoughts or energies we may have been feeling.

These small practices will help us train our minds to recognize reasons to be happy and see the world through a lens of positivity.

We Can Strengthen Positive Experiences And Rewire Our Brains To Stay Positive

Positive Experiences

Our minds have a built-in negativity bias, but we can counter that by actively increasing the strength of our positive experiences.

Research shows that, by stretching out those moments and reliving them in our minds, we can actually wire our brains to become more positive.

For example, imagine your favorite food: what are its textures, flavors, and smells? Really take your time to savor the mental image and enjoy it as much as possible.

By doing this simple exercise you’re retraining your brain to prioritize and remember the positive moments in life rather than the negative ones.

It also works when it comes to everyday activities with your family – instead of getting mad or frustrated when things don’t go according to plan, find ways of re-framing and making these moments into a fun activity for everyone involved.

Teach them how to counter their own negativity bias and the importance of acknowledging good times that last longer than just a few seconds.

Finally, make time for joyous occasions – not just physical activities such as sports or dancing but also on an emotional level; have meaningful conversations with people who challenge you positively and provide meaningful insights in life.

Re-balance your mind through strengthening your positive experiences & training yourself for happiness!

How Positive Experiences Can Help Heal Traumatic Memories And Grief

It’s a well-known fact that happiness has the power to heal past traumas and ameliorate feelings of pain and grief.

This is something that Hardwiring Happiness author experienced firsthand.

The author found that, even in the face of difficult life experiences such as a painful childhood or traumatic loss of a loved one, moments spent with beloved pets can help bring about healing.

One day when he was dogsitting two Cardigan Welsh corgis, the positive experience helped him to counter his own childhood memory in which his grandmother had locked him out of the house and told him the cows would eat him!

By linking this pleasant experience with those corgis to this past trauma, whenever he thinks of his grandmother, instead of negative thoughts, he automatically remembers that time with those cute dogs.

The same applies to when one loses a beloved pet – rather than dwelling on the grief, savoring all of the good memories you shared can help you come to terms with it faster.

Similarly, even during harder times like being diagnosed with cancer, Hardwiring Happiness author realized there was something positive to be taken from his experience – valuing each day for what it brings rather than letting it pass by unnoticed.

Happiness truly does have an amazing ability to heal us from our traumas and lessen moments of severe pain or grief.

Finding Happiness By Creating And Sharing Positive Experiences

Finding Happiness

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and feel like happiness is in short supply.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

We can create our own positive experiences and break out of this rut, thus rewiring our minds towards greater levels of happiness.

This could involve envisioning yourself in a place you’ve always dreamed of or appreciating even the smallest details for what they add to your life.

You can conquer fears by engaging with them head-on and having new, positively charged experiences that build up your confidence.

Additionally, it’s easier to be more altruistic when looking outward creating more sources of joy for yourself, such as feeling happy for a friend’s success.

By creating new positive experiences your life will be happier and much more fun.

Studies show that by donating money to good causes increases our rewards centers in the brain which not only encourages further giving but makes us genuinely happier people too!

Plus, we can further enjoy these experiences by sharing them with others and multiplying our happiness.

Wrap Up

Hardwiring Happiness is a book about retraining your brain to focus on the positive.

We know that our brains were originally wired to identify potential threats and danger, but now in an era of relative peace, it’s important for us to rewire our brains so that we can enjoy life more by focusing on the good things around us.

Actionable advice from this book include sharing your happy experiences with your friends, as this helps to revive the good feelings associated with those experiences.

The bottom line here is that by retraining your brain and focusing on the positive, you can enrich your life and increase your happiness.

This book offers great advice to help you do just that!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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