Hardwiring Happiness, And Other Books By Rick Hanson
Updated December 17, 2018
Reviewer Deborah Horton
Dr. Rick Hanson is a summa cum laude graduate and a respected psychologist who wears many hats, to put it mildly. For instance, in addition to his being a doctor and a best-selling author, he also founded the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom.
The Life And Career Of Rick Hanson
Dr. Hanson's career has come a long way since he first published Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships back in 2002, which he co-wrote with his acupuncturist wife, Jan. Dr. Hanson has written several books since then, including Hardwiring Happiness, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture.
Hanson's books have been translated into 26 languages, and he has been invited to speak at several of the most respected organizations in the world, including:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
- Oxford University
Hanson also hosts a free newsletter, the Just One Thing newsletter, which boasts over 120,000 subscribers, and he has participated in interviews with NPR, the BBC, and CBS.
Dr. Hanson received his Master's degree in developmental psychology from San Francisco State University, and he graduated from the Wright Institute in 1991 with his Ph.D. in clinical psychology. When his practice was still open, Dr. Hanson treated everyone from single adults and couples to children and families.
Dr. Hanson and his wife are parents to two grown children, and in his off-time, he enjoys such hobbies as rock-climbing, sailing, and traveling the world.
In Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships - his first book - Dr. Hanson helps mothers cope with the challenges that parenthood can often present to new and experienced moms alike. The book covers everything from improving a mother's mood to helping her get her diet back on track so that she can eat in a healthy way that supports her wellbeing. The book also helps mothers discover ways of improving on their intimacy with their partners - something that often falls by the wayside when trying to take care of children.
What's great about the book is that it presents challenges perhaps even before a mother can run into them, which helps her prepare for them in advance so as not to get overwhelmed and let negative thoughts and emotions flood her brain. She can recall the advice presented in this book to help her when times get tough to help perhaps make them a little less tough, which - let's face it - benefits everyone else in the family as well.
Dr. Hanson's book Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom was released a few years before Hardwiring Happiness, and it is recommended just as highly as those works that came after. In this book, Hanson explores how Buddha, along with other powerful leaders like Gandhi, Jesus, and Moses, was born with normal brains like everyone else, yet managed to change the world simply by changing their brains.
Here, Hanson discusses how the more that is learned about the brain, the more scientists can confirm that we do, in fact, have the power to change how we think by practicing more positive thought patterns. This book, as one might expect from the title, contains exercises to help readers experience mindfulness while meditating on feelings of contentment and joy. The aim is to stop people from "practicing" feelings of sadness, anger or worry by training them to change their minds and keep them changed simply.
Dr. Hanson's Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence was released five years ago, and it has since become one of Dr. Hanson's most successful books. As the title suggests, the book offers you ways to essentially rewire your brain to approach life with a more optimistic outlook.
The book has over 350 reviews on Amazon, with the majority being positive, and over forty well-known and respected doctors and authors in the self-help genre, such as Thich Nhat Hanh (Being Peace and Understanding Our Mind) and Mark Williams, Ph.D. (Mindfulness), have sung the book's praises as a life-changing work.
The point of the book is to help readers squash their negativity biases. As Hanson notes in the description of his book, negativity bias developed as a way to help animals survive in the wild, but all it does for us is stress us out, and make us feel worried, lonely, and inadequate.
Instead, the goal of Hardwiring Happiness is to help people pick out and focus on the little things in life that make them happy. From that first cup of hot coffee in the morning to the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a small but difficult task. Over time, the more we focus on these little positives and weed out the negatives, the stronger our resilience and positive feelings can become.
In his book, Hanson details the HEAL method, which stands for: Have, Enrich, Absorb, and Link. The HEAL method is supposed to help readers figure out, with Hanson's guidance, how to lead a life that is more relaxed and with increased feelings of appreciation and peace of mind.
Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness is Dr. Hanson's most recent work, being released in March of 2018. In this book, Hanson talks about how to hone your skills in compassion, appreciation and, of course, resilience so that you are better prepared when confronted with a challenging situation.
Resilient is about moving forward, to keep going in the face of our everyday struggles, such as those we experience at home, at work, and even in coping with past hurts. The key, Hanson says, is to build up your inner strengths so that when life hands you lemons, you will have no problem making that lemonade.
This book builds on the concepts contained in Hardwiring Happiness by teaching you how to overcome your negativity bias and rewire your brain so that you can essentially clear out the clutter and free your positive emotions. In other words, he helps you get in touch with those feelings that will keep you happy, keep you looking ahead, and keep you moving forward. Hanson's goal is to help you achieve inner peace and be an improved and happier human.
The Just One Thing Newsletter
The Just, One Thing newsletter, contains the perfect amount of information each week for everyone's busy lives. In it, there is a single practice that is suggested each week that you can follow discreetly and that can help you enjoy more rewarding interactions with those in your life and the peace of mind that taking control of your life and happiness can afford. It's like reading Hardwiring Happiness in small chunks each week.
For instance, one such exercise is to set aside a few minutes each day to reflect on something you're thankful for or appreciate, like the smell of your cup of coffee, or the nice gesture of a friend. These things may seem small, but if you practice this activity regularly, you can change your mood and your mind and do wonders for everything from your productivity to your immune system.
If you're not sure if you want to commit to receiving daily emails, something else you may want to look into is the Just One Thing archive. Here, you can review past Just One Thing suggestions and incorporate them into your own life. If you like enough of them, you may want to consider signing up for the newsletter so that you don't miss any new ones when they come out.
The Positive Neuroplasticity Training
In addition to his books, Dr. Hanson also created an online video program entitled The Positive Neuroplasticity Training, which consists of six courses to help you permanently change your brain to think more positively and work on honing your inner strengths.
Each course includes a roughly two-and-a-half-hour video presentation, along with a one-hour Q&A video with Dr. Hanson. There are two versions of the course you can take. The first costs $197 and includes the presentations, Q&A recordings, and a certificate of completion. The second costs $422 and is considered the Professional Course. Here, the difference is that Dr. Hanson teaches you how to teach others how to take a more positive approach to their own lives.
Included in the FAQs is a question asking whether someone may be too depressed, broken, etc. for the course to work. The answer is that Dr. Hanson does not believe that anyone is beyond help. He believes that it's all about finding which practices work best for you. Plus, you can always get a full refund if you find that the course has not been beneficial to you in any way, so there's nothing to lose.
Are you interested in learning more information about ways to decrease the stress in your life and increase your happiness? Why not reach out to one of our licensed professionals, who can help advise and guide you on the path to peace and enlightenment.