Hardwiring Happiness


Hardwiring Happiness proclaims that it will reshape your brain and your life.  In fact, the New Scientist even goes as far as stating that this book “might change your life.”

Hardwiring Happiness (ISBN 978-1-84604-357-4, Rider, Penguin, Random House, 2014) has been written by Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and an authority on self-directed neuroplasticity, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, and an affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

Now, in case I’ve lost you here, or I should say Rick Hanson’s lost you, Wikipedia asserts that “Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, is an umbrella term that encompasses both synaptic plasticity and non-synaptic plasticity – it refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking, emotions, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.”

Author Hanson states that you have to take in the good, which is “the deliberate internalization of positive experiences in implicit memory.”  It only takes four simple steps with the mnemonic “HEAL” (now there’s a snappy internalization).

H is for Have a positive experience

E is Enrich it

A covers Absorb it

L is to Link positive and negative material.

The reader meets HEAL first on page 60, but then again on page 66, 77, 86, 142, and probably more but I gave up counting.

The beginning of your hardwiring comes from recognizing positive experiences and apparently there can be lots of brief ones, which add up to one big happy.  Some people need physical reminders of the fun events, such as one person who would take a stone from his garden to remind him of the beauty of the flowers.

To be honest, I found the HEAL analogy somewhat juvenile, but of course I came from an era where all you did with garden stones was to throw them at predatory dogs.  You’d need more than a pocketful in Pattaya.

I got this book from Bookazine’s “Self Help” section.  I liken that more to a “Gawd ‘elp me” section.  There is no doubt about the fact that if you look pleasant and have the gift of the gab, all you need as a follow up is to write a book.  It must also help book sales if you get references from people with lots of K’s and Z’s in their name, with Roman Krznaric, Sharon Salzberg and Wes Nisker being just a few.

At B. 545 this is not a cheap book of pop psychology.  But did I get the grey thing in my skull hardwired?  Did I get anything of lasting value from this book?  Did I manage to put life’s good experiences into the brain where I could make use of them to control my own thoughts?  I’m sorry, my hardwiring experience was a failure.  For my next book, perhaps I should go to Bookazine’s IT section, they might teach me how to do it!

No I’m sorry, I seem to have completely missed the pop-psyche boat, but that may be, of course, because I don’t have enough K’s and Z’s.  In fact, I don’t have any.