One thing is clear – most of us could use a happier brain – and so we may as well get on to building it! Formatted in interview form, this piece is by Julie Beck on Dr. Rick Hanson’s new book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.
Here’s one key quotes by Dr. Hanson, in response to very well-phrased and thought-out questions by Ms. Beck:
“…The problem is, the brain is very good at building brain structure from negative experiences. We learn immediately from pain—you know, “once burned, twice shy.” Unfortunately, the brain is relatively poor at turning positive experiences into emotional learning neural structure.”
This article is SUCH a good read on why certain simple things like deep breathing, reflecting on positive experiences, and making choices that put us on more ‘solid’ emotional ground can really help. It is SO exciting because it ties together things I am already often reflecting on, in my own mind, in print, and out loud in conversation with friends and within the context of therapy.
So often I get caught up on acting (or becoming unable to act!) in response to some vague feeling of danger, particularly the danger of making a wrong choice, of not being right, of the world caving in – and it doesn’t. The fragility of everything means that life would go on without us, but exponentially impoverished, that birds would keep singing and children would keep laughing – but not that bird we would have helped save. Not that child that we can never comfort.
And the only way to become the person I want to be, the person that can save wildlife and put band-aids on children and who knows what else is to make choices that help me. Because I have the good fortune to be allowed that choice, I must use it. It isn’t selfish – it’s survival.