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Train your brain to focus on positive experiences

(Editor’s Note: we are pleased to bring you this arti­cle thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine).

The Neuroscience of Happiness

Best-selling author Rick Hanson explains how we can rewire
our brains for lasting happiness
By Michael Bergeisen

We’ve all been there: obsessing over a faux pas we committed at a party, infuriated by an unkind word from a colleague, ruminating over a tough break-up with a spouse or friend. We suffer some misfortune—big or small, real or imagined—and the pain or humiliation sticks with us for hours, days, or even years afterward.

“The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences,” psychologist Rick Hanson is fond of saying, “and Teflon for positive ones.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Drawing on some of the latest findings from neuroscience, Hanson has spent years exploring how we can overcome our brain’s natural “negativity bias” and learn to internalize positive experiences more deeply—while minimizing the harmful physical and psychological effects of dwelling on the negative.

For years, research has shown that, over time, our experiences literally reshape our brains and can change our nervous systems, for better or worse. Now, neuroscientists and psychologists like Hanson are zeroing in on how we can take advantage of this “plasticity” of the brain to cultivate and sustain positive emotions.

In his recent book, the best-selling Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, Hanson describes specific practices that can promote lasting joy, equanimity, and compassion—and backs it all up with sound science.

Hanson recently spoke with host Michael Bergeisen about some of these very practical, research-based steps we can all take to rewire our brains for lasting happiness. Below we present a condensed version of the discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

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