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Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence Paperback – December 27, 2016
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"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
"Truly helpful and wise, this book nourishes your practical goodness and feeds the vitality of your human spirit. Following these practices will transform your life."
-Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., author of A Path With Heart
"Dr. Hanson has laid out an amazingly clear, easy, and practical pathway to happiness."
-Kristin Neff, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin, author of Self-Compassion
"Rick Hanson is brilliant at making complex scientific information about the brain simple. For anyone wanting to decode the black box of the brain and take advantage of its potential, this is the book to read."
-Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., co-author with Helen LaKelly Hunt of Making Marriage Simple
"I happened to be reading Hardwiring Happiness while my mother was dying in hospice. Following the instructions in the book, there was a healing that transformed my experience of my mother's dying. This was the right book for the right moment, and I am deeply grateful for it."
-Gordon Peerman, D. Min., Episcopal priest and psychotherapist, author of Blessed Relief
"With current neuroscience to back him up, Rick Hanson has given us an incredible gift. The practices within this book don’t take much time at all, yet have the potential to yield true and lasting change."
-Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness
"Dr. Hanson offers a remarkably simple, yet transformative, approach to cultivating happiness. He provides clear instructions for bringing these insights into challenging areas such as parenting, procrastination, healing trauma, and transforming relationships. This book is a gift, one you will want to read over and over and share with your friends."
-Christopher Germer, Ph.D., Clinical Instructor, Harvard Medical School, author, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, co-editor, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy
"Seamlessly weaving together insights from modern neuroscience, positive psychology, evolutionary biology, and years of clinical practice, Dr. Hanson provides a wealth of practical tools anyone can use to feel less anxious, frustrated, and distressed in everyday life. With humor, warmth, and humility, this book combines new research and ancient wisdom to give us easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions to live richer, happier, and more loving lives."
-Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Harvard Medical School, and author, The Mindfulness Solution
"Rather than offering simplistic positive thinking, Dr. Hanson's synthesis of the new science of the brain is realistic and practical. Stop needless suffering, take in the good with his HEAL formula, calm down and green your brain, and flip the switch. We all need Hardwiring Happiness as a wise, daily practice."
-Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of The Hormone Cure
"Dr. Hanson shows us, in compelling prose sprinkled with humor, how we can learn to “re-wire” our brain, so that we can respond to the world in a receptive mode, one resting in peace, contentment, and love. I can’t imagine a better prescription for our troubled world!"
-Robert D. Truog, MD, Professor of Medical Ethics, Anesthesiology, and Pediatrics and Director of Clinical Ethics, Harvard Medical School
"Always on the cutting edge, Rick Hanson is brilliant at making the neuroscience of happiness accessible, engaging, and practical. If you're looking for greater happiness, more fulfilling relationships, or greater peace of mind, this book is a treasure."
-Marci Shimoff, author of Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul
"In a lively and lovely voice, Rick Hanson offers an inspiring, easily accessible guidebook to living happily."
-Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., author of Happiness Is An Inside Job
"Why should you read this over any other happiness or mindfulness book? Because the prose, stories, and concrete strategies are beautiful, lucid, and most importantly, they work. I cannot remember the last time a book brought me peace of mind as quickly and effectively."
-Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, George Mason University, author of Curious?
"Carefully explaining both the neurobiology and practice of happiness Dr. Hanson writes simply enough that anyone can use this book as a primary resource to bring more joy and less stress into their lives."
-Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., Director of Stanford Forgiveness Projects, author of Forgive for Good
"Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a life filled with joy and contentment is created "a dozen seconds at a time," as Rick Hanson shows us in this game-changing book. Hardwiring Happiness is an essential guide to finding peace and joy in our busy modern world--happiness that is not dependent on external or material conditions, but that is an essential part of who we are, no matter where we are or what we have. I can't stop thinking about the implications of this book."
-Christine Carter, Ph.D., former Director of the Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley, author of Raising Happiness
"Dr. Hanson provides an exceptionally clear and compelling explanation as to why we tend to focus on what's wrong far more than what's right. If you want to shape your own brain for the better and make feeling good a reflex, get this book and absorb its wisdom!"
-Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D., author of Mindfulness and Hypnosis and Depression is Contagious
"This deeply intelligent, beautifully written book weaves current neuroscience together with ancient and contemporary wisdom, and then translates these brilliantly into deceptively simple yet highly effective practices that really make a big difference – I know because I’ve done them."
- Anat Baniel, author of Move Into Life and Kids Beyond Limits
"Hardwiring Happiness demonstrates powerfully how a series of small steps brings about big changes."
- Phillip Moffitt, author of Emotional Chaos to Clarity and Dancing with Life
"The author weaves together the rigor of science, the beauty of art, the wisdom of reflection, and decades of clinical experience to offer us one of the most exceptional books on how to cultivate greater happiness and well being in our lives."
- Shauna L. Shapiro, Ph.D., professor, Santa Clara University, co-author of The Art and Science of Mindfulness
"In Hardwiring Happiness, Dr. Rick Hanson has given us an instruction manual for creating new brain patterns. This ability, once mastered, can change your life. And he does it all with a gentle humor and kindness that shines throughout the book."
- Bill O'Hanlon, Diplomate of the American Psychotherapy Association, author of The Change Your Life Book and Do One Thing Different
"This book is a gem. I recommend keeping it on your bedside table and making it the first thing you read each day."
- Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., President, Institute of Noetic Sciences, coauthor of Living Deeply
"Dr. Hanson clearly and elegantly teaches practices and perspectives that change our lives by changing our brains. If you want a primer for true happiness, this is it."
- Andrew Dreitcer, PhD, Associate Professor, Claremont Lincoln University, coauthor of Beyond the Ordinary
"In this book, the insights of neuroscience become clear, practical, and profoundly transformative. Rick Hanson is the one expert in this realm that I've come to trust completely, and following his guidance is “taking in the good” indeed."
- Raphael Cushnir, author of The One Thing Holding You Back
"Hardwiring Happiness is a masterful wow, guiding readers to skillfully take charge of rewiring their brains. The benefits will be immediate, the well-being long-lasting, and the process life-changing."
- Linda Graham, MFT, author of Bouncing Back
"With the compassion and gentleness of a good friend and the rigor and precision of an engineer, Rick Hanson gives you the key takeaways from neuroscience that will enable you rewire your brain for a more joyful life."
- Terry Patten, author of Integral Life Practice
"I can’t help but fall in love with this book, it is so powerful in its elegant simplicity. Hardwiring Happiness opens us up to the small choices that are all around us to live a happy, fulfilled and resilient life."
- Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., author of The Now Effect and A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook
"Unique in the growing field of neuroscience, Rick Hanson not only explains how the brain works, he gives us the tools to fix it. This book is a toolbox for transformation."
- Wes Nisker, author of Buddha's Nature
"Rick Hanson takes the technical and complicated and makes it simple, even ordinary. In Hardwiring Happiness, he has created an accessible, practical, and user-friendly guide that will help readers enhance their sense of well-being while also interrupting their habitual patterns of suffering."
- Karen Kissel Wegela, Ph.D., Professor, Naropa University, author of Contemplative Psychotherapy Essentials (coming from W.W. Norton in 2014)
"In this beautifully written book, Dr. Hanson walks us through the principles and practices that lead to transformation. He has an uncanny capacity to find the gems in dry, complex scientific research and combine them with his wisdom, wit, knowledge, and compassion. In Hardwiring Happiness, this results in profound, life changing lessons for us all."
- Daniel Ellenberg, Ph.D., co-author of Lovers For Life
"A fascinating exploration of the new science of happiness and how we can learn to shape our own brains."
- Roman Krznaric, Ph.D., author of The Wonderbox
"Hardwiring Happiness is a clear, easy-to-understand, fun and profound roadmap to genuine happiness. If you do the practices, they can change your life. Take in all the good this terrific book has to offer."
- James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy
"An awesome set of instructions for upgrading the mental operating system!"
- Vincent Horn, founder of Buddhist Geeks
"This book not only explains how to develop essential qualities of peace, satisfaction and connection - but also a sense of hopefulness that we can radically affect our reality and our well being."
- Mark Coleman, author of Awake in the Wild
"Hardwiring Happiness is fantastic--offering us an evolutionary perspective on our brain's built-in negativity bias, and then giving us practical tools for dealing with it. Brilliant."
- Brian Johnson, CEO of en*theos
"Here's what I love about Rick Hanson's book: it's practical, it's based on science, and it's full of wisdom. Best of all, it actually works."
- Geneen Roth, author of Women Food and God and Lost and Found
About the Author
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and a New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture, and are available in 26 languages. He edits the Wise Brain Bulletin and has numerous audio programs. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at NASA, Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, and other major universities, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. His work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, and NPR, and he offers the free Just One Thing newsletter with over 100,000 subscribers, plus the online Foundations of Well-Being program in positive neuroplasticity that anyone with financial need can do for free.
From the Hardcover edition.
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In simple terms, being a little jumpy and fearful had survival value for our ancestors for millions of years. So now, even though no predators roam the range and we're not likely to be bludgeoned by a neighboring tribe, we're the descendants of those nervous souls and our brains still have "Velcro for negativity and Teflon for positivity." Which means that many of us are pointlessly jumpy and stressed.
So how do you switch this around so more of the positive sticks and more of the negative slides off? How do we take our brains from reactivity (stressful!) to responsivity (much better)?
Here Dr Hanson's book excels and may be the most practical manual of its genre. His central premise is that good stuff is happening all the time - e.g. you're breathing, heart's beating, sun's shining. All you have to do is take in more of the good. To help us take in the good, he's devised a 4-step protocol with the acronym HEAL:
1) Have a positive experience.
2) Enrich it.
3) Absorb it. Let it really sink in!
Now you practice this HEAL protocol on a regular basis, which can take less than a minute. The more you do this, the more you're training your brain to stay in the happy, responsive "green zone" all the time, even in stressful conditions.
If that were all I got out of the book, it would already be far more than my money's worth. And you, eagle-eyed reader, may have noticed that I haven't yet mentioned the 4th letter of the HEAL acronym:
4) Link positive and negative material.
This step allows you to overwrite and/or *erase* negative experiences with positive ones ("pulling weeds with flowers", in Hanson's poetic terms). This is an extraordinary feat of mental jiu-jitsu: to heal the mind using the mind. What's even more extraordinary is that anyone can do it. I've used it in my own practice, both for myself and patients, and it works nicely. Dr Hanson's simple, step-by-step protocol to pull the weeds from your own mental garden is easy to use and quite effective.
Some of the other things that I appreciate about this book:
-- The organization is clear and coherent - first the Why, then the How - making the material easy to absorb.
-- Dr Hanson is a trained neuropsychologist with 30 years of practice. This means that what he's teaching you works on real people like you and me.
-- Not only does Hanson have thorough command of the science, but he's also a master of explaining complexity in terms everyone can understand and implement.
-- Real-life anecdotes from patients illustrate some of the techniques. I'll always remember the one about writing positive experiences on strips of colored paper and turning those into a chain that grows every day.
-- The book has an actual recipe for getting yourself to practice the piano more. I'm hoping it's translatable to other tasks productive if not wholly pleasant.
-- A big bonus towards the end called the "21 Jewels": "a collection of practices for growing key strengths inside yourself," oriented around the three basic needs of safety, satisfaction and connection. Hanson leads you through a HEAL-based meditation for each one. Top 5: refuge, peace, enthusiasm, love, and feeling like a good person.
Ultimately, this is a manual for healing yourself and your family. Using the procedures laid out in this book, you can solve problems that may have seemed insurmountable for years: mediocre mood, poor relations, stress, guilt, self-criticism. If it saves you even half of a session with a shrink, it's worth the twenty bucks you plunk down for it.
I met Dr Hanson at one his talks here in the Bay Area, and find him to be a competent and compassionate healer and teacher. If you wish to turn up the color of joy in your life for the long term, you would do well to read his book.
-- Ali Binazir MD, Happiness Engineer and author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible, the highest-rated dating book on Amazon for 157 weeks