Hardwiring Happiness Into your Brain to Relieve Stress

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Stress Solutions Summit Lisa Garr the Aware Show

Rick Hanson Happiness

Why is it people living a more luxurious life, the kind of life kings and queens would have loved to live 200 years ago, and yet so many people feel discontent and hungry?

People are often having momentarily pleasant experiences, but those mild experiences do not sink deeper into the brain.

The reason, according to Rick Hanson, my guest today on the Stress Solutions Summit, is that we have a negativity bias. This helped our ancestors to survive, by making sure they prioritized survival of the tribe over the pleasure of the moment.

Unfortunately, this negativity bias has stuck with us, and the positive experiences of mildness do not sink into our brain nearly as much as our negative experiences.

“People eat very well, but they don’t feel fed.”

The Neuropsychology of Happiness

As a neuroscientist, Rick Hanson understands the plasticity of the brain, and how we can create the neural pathways that we want to create.

“Neurons that fire together wire together,” he likes to say.

You can have the experience of being inspired by listening to an inspiring talk, or reading an amazing book, but a month later you’re back to the same-old same-old.


The good news is: If you make regular efforts, ten or twenty minutes a day, you will really change your life for the better.

That’s why Rick has developed a 12 month program to help people grow the good inside themselves. He shared one of his exercises with us during the interview:

Thats the first step – to get that good feeling going in the first place. And you have to feel it, and not just to think about it.

Deep down, all experience is the same. Happy, sad, excited, boredom, they are all the same thing. When you accept them all as the same thing, you experience inner peace.

You can build real lasting wisdom and happiness, by training your brain to expect the experience of happiness. He dives into the foundation of his work during his TED talk at TEDx Marin:

Give yourself the gift of happiness, and watch the full interview replay by clicking the button below:

Click Here to watch the Interview Replay