We are biologically evolved to react to danger and thus remember the bad times – those with the best fight-or-flight response survived. Yet neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, building on the work of many recent authors, claims that we can actively train our mental happiness pathways to compensate for this bias in order to lead happier lives.
The practice he recommends is very different from simple affirmations. The exercises to promote the happiness pathways in our brains reminded me of acting exercises that I had in school to conjure up a mood. Readers are encouraged to “take in the good,” becoming more aware of and responsive to positive situations all around us every day, with many examples of how to do so.
I found this premise very intriguing and also reminiscent of simply counting our blessings. The author goes on to suggest developing the technique to overcome habits, free yourself from old emotional wounds and learn new skills. I’m not sure that someone who’s not astrologically predisposed for focus and discipline can really get this technique to work on their own for more significant issues, and perhaps it makes more sense for shorter-term and general outlook.
This book is easy to read and may have been more effective at a shorter length. But it seems like a great idea and I’m already trying it with success!