Hardwiring Happiness: Dr. Rick Hanson

My favorite podcast – Being Well, has been a huge blessing to me over this last year. I can’t say that I’ve perfected any of the concepts I’m learning. Haha. In fact, this week, my first back to work after a lovely break, revealed that I have much to learn. It was a rough week as I face some things I haven’t wanted to face. But I have been learning a great deal, nonetheless. I get a little closer to where I want to be, all of the time. Today, I had a few minutes to listen to these videos, after working on some packing – as I prepare to move. Packing before a move is always stressful to me. I can get overwhelmed. I was definitely feeling that today. Slowing down to watch these left me with a sense of hope, in spite of what I had been feeling in the moment.

In this video, Dr. Hanson talks to his son, Forrest about “taking in the good.” He talks about ways you can change your brain – for the better. There was a key moment that really left me with a sense that no matter where I am or what I am doing, happiness and contentment are possible. Around the 2:48 mark is when he talks about this concept that you can take in the good and have it transform your day instead of the day being a “long, slow slog.” I loved this part (2:48-4:30).

I also watched the video below – Hardwiring Happiness: Dr. Rick Hanson. In this Tedx Talk, Dr. Hanson talks about turning experiences into the “happiness, resilience” and other strengths we need to have happy and contended lives.

From the description:

Hardwiring Happiness : The Hidden Power of Everyday Experiences on the Modern Brain.
How to overcome the Brain’s Negativity Bias. Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and the author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, best selling author of Buddha’s Brain, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and an Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide.

This is seriously good stuff and truly excites me on this journey to healing (that I’ve been on since my (foster) son left my home).

How to Like Ourselves More

steven furtick, highlight reel steven furtick, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

I’ve shared before that I really enjoy Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson’s Being Well, podcast. I’ve gotten a lot from it over the last nine-ish months. I listen every week. Last week’s episode was “Building a Better Relationship with Yourself (aka How to Like Ourselves More).” Here’s the description:

The most important relationship we have is with ourselves. You’re the only person you’ll be around every minute of every day for the rest of your life. And, unfortunately, that relationship is often our most difficult one. Today Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson explore how we can become better friends to ourselves, and learn to like ourselves more.

What I found useful in this episode is the conversation surrounding the ways in which we are overly focused on the faults in ourselves – hyper-focused in some cases – and compare our lives to those around us. We use everyone else’s highlight reel as the yardstick with which we measure our lives, judge ourselves, etc. As Pastor Steven Furtick says, “The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” This is never more true than now as we are constantly exposed to other people’s social media version of their lives. We don’t see their inner thoughts. We don’t necessarily know when they’re behaving badly. We don’t see their bad habits. And we compare ourselves and our own hyper-critical narrator, against a version of others that is not likely to be a full picture of who they are.

In this episode, Dr. Hanson shares a way to practice “being for yourself.” While I can’t possibly recap the whole thing and wouldn’t want to – as Dr. Hanson’s words are incredibly poignant, here’s an important quote. And then I’ve shared how he basically summed up the entire practice of being for yourself.

“Can you look at yourself, as someone, like any other human, who deserves decency and fairness – including in the accurate appraisal of yourself – seeing yourself accurately, & holding yourself to the same standard that you hold other people to, no less – no more?” – Dr. Rick Hanson

If you view yourself in the ways that I used to, the answer is probably no. Here’s how he summed up the practice – or ways of thinking about how to be “for yourself.”

1. It’s okay to seek good for yourself.
2. Be compassionate toward yourself (as you would others).
3. Be strong on your own behalf.

I think there’s something really powerful here and in the “positive inner voices” that we should be focusing on – in the same way we would be positive and compassionate toward those around us. If a friend were hurting, would we be cruel or compassionate? Would we beat them up? It’s not likely. We want what’s best for them.

I believe we behave out of what’s in our hearts and thoughts. If we wouldn’t beat up our friends or speak condemnation and ugliness into their lives – why do we do it to ourselves? If a friend told me her husband was abusive with his words – though he’d never hurt her physically? What would I say to her? I would point out all of the lies in his words and tell her she deserves better than to be treated that way. I would point out all of the ways in which she is a great person, with a good heart, that deserves to be loved and cared for.

And yet, we frequently beat ourselves bloody, focusing more on what we’ve done wrong or how we’ve made mistakes – versus viewing ourselves compassionately and through a lens of self-acceptance. Do condemning words and focus on our faults – get us anywhere? Not with me. This whole idea of “being for ourselves” absolutely does not mean that we’re narcissists or that we somehow don’t have our own stuff to work on. But what I’ve come to accept is that without that compassion toward myself, I’m actually less able to work on the things I’d like to change about myself. Beating myself up holds me back.

There’s something very powerful about seeing ourselves accurately. If you’re a believer, this also means that you accept the way in which God views you. There’s little evidence to show that he views you as a horrible, rotten piece of trash. I mean – that’s the whole point of Grace. The Bible talks about the way that God redeems us and offers us this grace so freely. We exchange the old person for the new person. But so often there’s a hyper-focus on the stuff we’d rather not admit to. That’s not at all what God is focused on. It’s not the identity that He’s given us. I’m convinced that seeing ourselves accurately requires that we offer ourselves the same compassionate response we offer others and seeing ourselves as He does, in Him.

If you’re really great at beating yourself up and not so great at being compassionate toward yourself, listen to the podcast (linked above). It’s worth your time.








Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs

Dr. Rick Hanson, Being Well, Wellness, Elaina Avalos, Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs

If you’re pursuing wellness, particularly wellness as it pertains to your mental health, this is a great podcast to check out. While I don’t agree with everything I hear on the podcast (some doesn’t fit certain areas of my faith), I have found that much of what Dr. Hanson (and his son Forrest) discuss on the podcast, is immensely helpful. What I think is most helpful is what I have come to see as Dr. Hanson’s emphasis on our ability to control and impact our well-being, thinking, and ultimately emotions. This is a great episode. Click HERE to check it out. This podcast is one of my favorite things.