My guest this week is RICK HANSON, neuropsychologist, and author of the best-seller BUDDHA’S BRAIN. We’re going to talk about his latest book, HARDWIRING HAPPINESS, where he brings together mindfulness and neuroscience and offers pro-active practices to actually shift the brain’s neural structure – the hardwiring – toward calm, contentment, and confidence.
This time of year can be challenging for people. Holidays bring us in contact with family, which for many carries a charge. We’re all asked to be more social than usual. We need a story to tell. And it feels natural to take stock and self assess at the end and beginning of a calendar year. We can be hard on ourselves.
Rick Hanson and I are going to talk about how you can use new lessons science is learning about the brain to overcome it’s — so far evolutionarily successful — negativity bias – the brain’s tendency to hardwire negative and threatening experiences more easily, more quickly than positive ones. It’s important that you avoid predators. And the ones who didn’t had fewer children.
HAPPY. Are you happy? What makes you happy? Does money make you happy? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in an environment that values and promotes happiness and well-being? Do you expect you’re going to get happier? How?
ROKO BELIC’S documentary HAPPY explores these sorts of questions. It weaves the latest scientific research from the field of “positive psychology” with stories from around the world of people whose lives illustrate what we’re learning.
The basic approach to the pursuit of happiness taken by many of us and by society in general isn’t delivering. We know more than we ever have about what science can tell us about happiness. And we have access to more diverse models and worldviews than ever before. This is a good time to ask some basic questions.
There are 183 million active video gamers in the US, and the average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. There are now more than five million “extreme” gamers” in the US who play an average of 45 hours a week.
According to game designer JANE McGONIGAL, this is because videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. But she goes way beyond that, in her first book, REALITY IS BROKEN — just out in paperback – she suggests we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.
Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, she shows how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy so that videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world.
I recommend Reality Is Broken to people who have no interest in games. Separate from what it says about the current reality and possible future of games, the book is an excellent primer on what we have learned – and most people don’t know – about happiness, learning, productivity and growth.
JON KABAT-ZINN, Ph.D. is Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he was founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and founding Director of its world-renowned Stress Reduction Clinic. In 1993, his work in the Stress Reduction Clinic was featured in Bill Moyer's PBS Special, Healing and the Mind. He's the author of Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness; Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life; Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness.
Dr. Kabat-Zinn's work has contributed to a growing movement of mindfulness within mainstream institutions in medicine, law, education, business, corrections, and sports. Over 200 medical centers and clinics nationwide and abroad now use his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Jon was a guest a couple of times before on this show. On one of those occasions, he was joined by his wife Myla Kabat Zinn, and we talked about mindful parenting and the book they wrote together, Everyday Blessings, which I highly recommend. By the way, the Zinn in both their names is her maiden name. Myla's father is the late historian and activist, Howard Zinn.
TRUCY GOODMAN, Ph.D., has trained and practiced in two fields for over 25 years: meditation and psychotherapy. She studied developmental psychology with Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Carol Gilligan, and trained with psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Richard Chasin, MD. For 20 years, Trudy worked with children, teenagers, couples and individuals in a full psychotherapy practice. Since 1974, Trudy devoted much of her life to practicing Buddhist meditation. She taught mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn in the early days of the MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) clinic at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.
There’s been a lot of talk about the battle between science and religion the last few years. At the same time, there’s been some fascinating and powerful work bringing science and spirituality closer together. Recent developments in psychology and the neurosciences have led to insights about how our brains work and how these neurological functions shape our experiences of the world. Turns out some of what we’re learning fits very well with the wisdom developed over thousands of years in contemplative practices.
RICK HANSON has been meditating since 1974 the same year he graduated summa cum laude from UCLA. In his new book, written with Richard Mendius MD, BUDDHA’S BRAIN, he pulls a lot of information together to reach all of us from the most scientific to the most spiritual. After all we’ve all got brains and we all seek happiness.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist, co-founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom (http://www.wisebrain.org/), and editor of the Wise Brain Bulletin. He offers a free newsletter, "Just One Thing" at his website rickhanson.net which offers a simple mindfulness practice each week. Hanson is co-author with his wife, Jan, of MOTHER NURTURE, still the only book that systematically shows how to support the health and well-being of mothers and couples over the long haul of raising a family. His newest book is BUDDHA'S BRAIN: THE PRACTICAL NEUROSCIENCE OF HAPPINESS, LOVE, AND WISDOM.