Rick Hanson is the author of the New York Times best seller Buddha’s Brain the practical neuroscience of happiness love and wisdom.
Leading Edge Seminars recently brought Rick Hanson to Toronto for a two-day session that quickly sold out. The audience consisted mostly of people in the helping professions — the majority were therapists — for whom learning and teaching mindfulness are key factors in their approach to well being.
Hanson started by drawing our attention to the brain itself: “three pounds of tofu-like tissue containing 1.1 trillion cells, including 100 billion neurons.” Chemicals called neurotransmitters enable neurons to receive signals telling the neurons to fire. When they fire, they send signals to other neurons….and as the famous saying goes, neurons that fire together wire together. Which is the good news and the bad news.
When we get depressed or anxious, when we experience chronic stress, our neurons are stuck. When we build new neural pathways consisting of positive intentions we are fostering happiness. As Hanson puts it, “Conscious mental events are based on temporary coalitions of synapses that form and disperse — usually within seconds — like eddies in a stream. Neurons can also make lasting circuits, strengthening their connections to each other as a result of mental activity.”
How do we create happiness? Activation and installation, Hanson says. Notice positive experiences. Savour them. Encode them. Encoding is what we practice in my guided sessions.
Take a look at Hanson’s Power Point presentation, which he shared at the workshop and offered to participants to use as we see fit.