By Rick Hanson Ph.D., author of Hardwiring Happiness (Harmony, December 2016).
My book, Hardwiring Happiness, addresses a fundamental weakness in other positive psychology books: simply having beneficial experiences is not enough; we also need to convert these passing experiences into lasting changes in neural structure or function. If we don’t, there is no learning, no durable healing or growth—which means limited gains from both formal interventions and informal efforts at self-help.
Drawing on research on the neuropsychology of emotional, somatic, and motivational learning, I show you how to use every day experiences to develop important psychological resources such as resilience, compassion, and confidence. I also share how to apply these inner strengths to meet specific personal needs, taking the triune theory of brain evolution as an organizing framework and roadmap.
In Hardwiring Happiness, you will learn:
- the central importance of psychological resources for effectiveness and well-being, coping with challenges, and managing vulnerabilities;
- how inner resources are acquired through processes of learning;
- major mechanisms of experience-dependent neuroplasticity;
- the two-stage process of learning: from experience to memory, state to trait;
- about the brain’s evolved negativity bias and how it’s a bottleneck to psychological resource acquisition;
- mental “learning factors” that increase the encoding and consolidation of experiences into lasting changes in the nervous system—and compensate for the negativity bias;
- the HEAL framework that organizes learning factors into a step-by-step process that can be used to acquire desired psychological resources and to steepen the learning curve in psychotherapy, mindfulness programs, and human resources training;
- to use the fourth HEAL step, linking positive and negative material, to reduce and potentially replace painful or harmful thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns;
- how the brain evolved to meet our needs for safety, satisfaction, and connection through avoiding harms, approaching rewards, and attaching to others;
- to use this needs fulfillment framework to develop specific psychological resources for personal issues (e.g., insecure attachment, anxiety, low self-worth).
I hope you will consider Hardwiring Happiness in your coursework. The book is well-referenced, full of practical applications, and contains many brief experiential practices to deepen embodied learning. It offers an accessible entry into topics of emotional intelligence, resilience, learning, and personal development.