Get Happy: How to Use Your Mind to Change Your Brain

This photo triggers a great experience for me when I got up super early and went out to a hide on a South Island NZ beach and waited patiently for a yellow eyed penguin to walk across. You may not see him/her in the photo but I know I did. Positive experience savored.
This photo triggers a great experience for me when I got up super early and went out to a hide on a South Island NZ beach and waited patiently for a yellow eyed penguin to walk across. You may not see him/her in the photo but I know I did. Positive experience savored.

Lewis Howes interviewed Dr. Rick Hanson on episode 207 of the podcast The School of Greatness and I listened when I woke up unusually early this morning. I found this to be super practical advice on dealing with negative, self-defeating thoughts. Especially because I am suspicious of positive thinking techniques that feel like psyching myself up (or out). Rick Hanson distinguishes between positive thinking and his work, “I believe in realistic thinking and positive experiencing.”

I do believe I am basically a good person and am capable of greatness, but somehow my brain did not get the memo. It replays lots of negative memories and thoughts that undermine my basic sense of wellbeing and sap my energy. UC Berkeley professor Rick Hanson’s research and teaching in neuropsychology suggests that we can rewire our brain in short 20-second sessions throughout the day.

I do not want to give your detailed notes on the interview because my hope is you will listen to the entire 55-minute interview. Here are a few teasers.

“The brain is like Velcro for the bad, but Teflon for the good because that’s what helped our ancestors survive in harsh conditions.” So it is harder to learn from good experiences. We have to do it consciously in 20-30 second increments using HEAL. Have the experience. Enrich the experience by savoring it for just a little longer. Absorb the experience. Link the experience and ultimately replace negative experiences with positive. (Hanson explains this in much more detail in his NYT bestseller, Hardwiring Happiness.)

When asked what are 3 truths about the world, your life, that your learning boils down to and Hanson told a story about Froggie similar to a fairy tale in many world traditions. A bunch of frogs fall into a vat of cream. The slick sides of the metal vat kept them from climbing out. They all continued to struggle and eventually they each began to drown. But Froggie is determined and keeps swimming, and keeps kicking and didn’t give up. Eventually the cream turned into butter and became solid enough for him to jump out of the vat. So keep churning.

P.S. I discovered Lewis Howes at World Domination Summit. And my friend Carole shared her favorite podcasts with me and recommended the Stitcher app for easier listening. I made The School of Greatness one of my favorites.

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