Rick Hanson (@drrhanson) is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, co-host of The Being Well Podcast, author of Hardwiring Happiness, and co-author of Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness.

What We Discuss with Rick Hanson:

  • While you can’t count on others or the world, you can count on your own strengths (and why this is a good thing).
  • Why your brain is like velcro for the bad and teflon for the good and what you can do to mitigate your own negativity bias.
  • The two stages by which you develop mental resources: experience and conversion to lasting change.
  • How you can build resilience by focusing on experiences rather than conditions.
  • How to stay informed about current events without letting the news hijack your emotions.
  • And much more…

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Worksheet for This Episode
Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Rick Hanson, PhD and Forrest HansonThe human brain evolved to be pretty good at surviving in a kill-or-be-killed world, but it turns out that being on constant alert for potential danger doesn’t always make us feel good, treat others well, or serve us when we’re trying to get an anxiety-free night of good sleep. But Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness co-author Dr. Rick Hanson knows a few things about giving our brains a much-needed update for life in the modern world.

In this episode we’ll talk about why learning to rely on ourselves rather than others (or the world at large) is ultimately empowering, why our brains are often teflon for our good experiences and velcro for our bad experiences and what we can do to mitigate this negativity bias, and how to ensure we’re focused on the right metrics for emotional health and happiness. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

Please Scroll down for Full Show Notes and Featured Resources!

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More About This Show

In Resilient, Dr. Rick Hanson says that the path your life takes is dependent upon how to manage your challenges, protect your vulnerabilities, and increase your resources.

“Let’s say you’re doing dishes and the water itself is full of germs and crud,” says Rick. “That’s a challenge. Let’s say, also, that you have a little cut on your hand that the germs can penetrate. That’s your vulnerability. So what do you do? You put on the big yellow gloves and do the dishes. That’s the resource that protects your vulnerability and manages the challenge. That’s kind of everyday life. I recognize that resources, vulnerabilities, and challenges are out in the world, in the physical body, and in the mind. That gives us nine ways we can make things better. That’s a 3×3 matrix.

Resources Vulnerabilities Challenges
In the World
In the Body
In the Mind

“That said, I tend to focus on resources, because that’s where we have opportunity. Often we can’t do much about challenges and vulnerabilities. While it’s super important to grow [resources] out in the world — including build up your relationships with others, build up your bank account, build up your likes on Facebook. And it’s also good to build up resources in the body — good nutrition, exercise, and whatnot, again, it’s a pretty slow road. But to grow resources in your mind, to grow confidence, skills with other people, know-how, to grow inner peace, to grow insight, to grow self-awareness, to grow patience, those are things that first you can always make bigger — because you can work with your mind all the time. And second, you take the results with you wherever you go.

“So of those nine ways to make the world better, I focus on growing resources in the mind. To me, that little box in the 3×3 matrix, that’s where there’s great opportunity.”

Another key point Rick makes in Resilient is that we may not be able to count on others or the world, but we can count on our own strengths. While this might sound like a fatalist attitude, it’s really a reminder that while we can’t control everything life throws our way, we can control how we react to it.

“I’m talking about the essence of old-school self-reliance,” says Rick. “I’m talking about really hardcore stuff. At the end of the day, a lot of people will disappoint you. At the end of the day, your body is getting older — it’s aging, it’s vulnerable, it’s fundamentally frail. At the end of the day, institutions in your country that you thought were trustworthy and reliable, suddenly they’re exposed as not-so-reliable. Leaders that you thought were reliable? Not reliable. What do you do then?

“The weather may change. Your partner may drop the rope. But what you can count on is what’s inside you. It doesn’t mean to be cynical or pessimistic about what other people can do for you. Do what you can to help the world and other people and your body be more reliable. Ultimately, even existentially, in the last breaths you’re ever going to have, in a funny kind of way, you’re alone inside yourself when that happens.”

Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about how Rick’s near-death experience after a car accident gave him a clearer perspective of self-reliance, why Rick sees self-improvement as an ultimately selfless act, why Rick considers learning to be the strength of inner strengths, how the brain consistently remodels itself and what we can do to harness this to bolster our resilience, and much more.


If you enjoyed this session with Rick Hanson, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Rick Hanson at Twitter!

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Resources from This Episode:

Worksheet for This Episode

Download Worksheet for The Science of Hardwiring Happiness and Resilience

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