- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 40 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: October 8, 2013
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00EZ5EC96
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence Audiobook – Unabridged
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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