Neuroscience of Happiness


Have you been taking any time to amplify a positive in your life?

Last night, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and imagined one positive thing from this week (a warm, perfectly brewed cup of coffee on Monday morning). I took several more deep breaths and imagined the mug's warmth on my hands, the touch on my lips, the smooth taste.

Can you take a minute to reinforce a positive thing that you experienced this week?

Spend three deep breaths feeling this positive experience, sinking into it with your whole being. Be as vivid as you can.

Sometimes it can feel like we're trapped in a certain state or mindset, that we're stuck. I feel it. I go through my phases, and then the more I learn about the brain, the more optimistic I become.

And that's partly why I spent my early Sunday morning finishing this wonderful podcast and writing to you about it:

SCP Podcast 187: Dr. Rick Hanson Neuroscience of Happiness

Because this feels good to me. It's not work, and I'm not going to trick my brain into thinking it is. It's also super cool to see how all the strategies I've been practicing and writing about for years is founded in science.

Our brains have a negativity bias - if you find yourself in a negative mindset, focusing extra on all the superficial or significant bad stuff that's happening to you...it's not your fault.

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It's like all the negative stuff appears in bold 72 font size.

But a lot of the other good stuff is teensy.


Here's the thing, if you're aware that our brains have an enormous potential to change

- that we can shift our mindset and physically CHANGE our brain based on the things we do, say, and think -

but you're still not changing...it's not your fault.

As Dr. Hanson explains: learning a name, language, or idea is (relatively) easy. It can happen very fast. So you can learn why or how you might make certain changes.

But that involves a much newer part of the brain.

Learning a new feeling, attitude, or outlook - and changing our patterns - takes much longer because it involves more ancient, earlier evolved parts of our brain.

It takes time, repetition, and deeper engagement in the experiences we want to reinforce.

  • Just knowing doesn't equal doing.

  • Doing doesn't equal learning/changing.

  • Doing consistently over time is where the deep learning occurs.

Be kind to yourself when it comes to these types of changes. And recognize that the negativity bias can make this all more challenging.

When we expect to make deep changes quickly simply because we know they're possible and even know how, it can lead to compounding negativity and self-judgement.

If you find yourself challenged (or if you feel amazing) it would make me so happy if you'd commit to spending 1 minute per day reinforcing a positive experience.

You could try 1 minute in the morning and 1 minute before bed. It will accumulate, it will become easier. Do not expect changes right now. Just expect that you get at least 1 minute per day to feel good.

Over time, you can progress and you may find that it start happening more naturally. That's when things get really fun! Thank you for spending this time with me. I hope you spend just as much if not more time experiencing some wonderful things today :)