Hardwiring Happiness Book Summary - Hardwiring Happiness Book explained in key points
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Hardwiring Happiness summary

Rick Hanson

The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

4.4 (291 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson is a guide to rewiring your brain for joy and resilience. Using the latest neuroscience research, the author provides practical exercises for cultivating positive emotions and overcoming negativity bias.

Table of Contents

    Hardwiring Happiness
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    Having happy or sad thoughts depends on the structure of your brain, but people tend to focus on the “bad.”

    When you were growing up, did you get along with everyone and easily fit in? Or were you constantly on the sidelines, getting teased and retreating further inward? Even if you were popular on the schoolyard, you probably share some common traits with those who easily feel rejected.

    This is because bad experiences trigger stronger and more memorable emotions than good ones.

    For example, think of the last job evaluation you received: It may have been brimming with compliments and positive feedback. But if it contained one small criticism, you probably ended up fixating on it, instead of all that praise.

    That’s how it is for most people, because humans have a built-in tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive.

    In fact, in 2001, psychologist Roy Baumeister found that people pay more attention to angry faces than to happy ones. So, when someone glares at you, your subconscious immediately picks up on the hostility.

    All that said, your tendency to focus on happy or sad thoughts depends on a certain part of your brain. Some people have what scientists call a “happy amygdala,” the amygdala being the part of the brain that’s in charge of emotional responses.

    Research shows that a happy amygdala heavily stimulates the nucleus accumbens – the part of the brain that drives us to fulfill our goals. People with happy amygdalas tend to be optimistic, focusing on opportunities rather than difficulties. In turn, these positive thoughts can strengthen our desire to take action and achieve our goals, thereby creating happy experiences and generating positive feedback to the brain.

    Unfortunately, the majority of people have a “sad amygdala.” This leads to fear-based reactions that release cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream and make us feel anxious and edgy.

    In the next blink, we’ll take a closer look at this gloomier brain type and learn what can turn a frown upside-down.

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    What is Hardwiring Happiness about?

    Hardwiring Happiness (2013) isn’t just another self-help book singing the praises of positive thinking. It presents the latest research behind the neuroscience of happiness and explains how you can reprogram your brain to focus on the good, rather than obsessing over the bad.

    Hardwiring Happiness Review

    Hardwiring Happiness (2013) by Rick Hanson explores the concept of rewiring our brains for happiness and cultivating positive emotions. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its emphasis on practical techniques and exercises, it offers readers actionable ways to reshape their minds and create lasting happiness.
    • Backed by scientific research and supported by real-life examples, the book provides a solid foundation for understanding how our brains function and how we can optimize them for happiness.
    • Through its engaging writing style and relatable anecdotes, the book manages to make the complex topic of neuroscience accessible and enjoyable, ensuring that readers won't find it boring.

    Best quote from Hardwiring Happiness

    The negativity bias doesnt mean you cant be happy. But if youre happy, youre happy in spite of it.

    —Rick Hanson
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    Who should read Hardwiring Happiness?

    • People who tend to focus on the negative
    • Optimists who want to find more effective ways of thinking positively
    • Students of neuroscience and biology

    About the Author

    Rick Hanson is the bestselling author of Just One Thing, Buddha’s Brain and Mother Nurture. He holds a PhD in psychology and delights readers with his direct and personal style. He is also a beloved speaker and coach, sharing his knowledge on how the brain can make human beings happier and better.

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    Hardwiring Happiness FAQs 

    What is the main message of Hardwiring Happiness?

    The main message of Hardwiring Happiness is that we have the power to shape our brains and increase our happiness by focusing on positive experiences.

    How long does it take to read Hardwiring Happiness?

    The reading time for Hardwiring Happiness varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Hardwiring Happiness a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Hardwiring Happiness is worth reading because it provides practical tools and strategies to cultivate happiness and improve our well-being.

    Who is the author of Hardwiring Happiness?

    The author of Hardwiring Happiness is Rick Hanson.