How can you increase happiness in your life?  Well, happiness does not just “happen”.   Increasing happiness is a skill and an on-going process. While people can be born with different temperaments and dispositions, for most of us, being happy requires a bit of work.

In his book “Hardwiring Happiness“,  author Rick Hanson, a Neuropsychologist, explains that the brain is like teflon for positive and velcro for negative.  Makes sense.  For survival purposes, our brains would have necessarily evolved to remember danger and pain and any other difficult or life-threatening experience.

So are we then biologically predestined to be unhappy and anxious?

Definitely  not! Having worked with clients for 20+ years, I know you can increase happiness because I’ve seen it happen, time and time again with hundreds of clients. Creating more happiness in your life does takes some time and effort.  It requires learning effective skills and tools and implementing these happiness-enhancing practices into your daily life.  This is much of what I teach my clients in session.

I recently learned about a new effective tool to increase happiness that I’m excited to share with you and all my clients. In his book, Hanson explains how to use “positive neuroplasticity ” to rewire your brain for contentment, calm, confidence and happiness.  He explains that “neurons that fire together, wire together” and then teaches this simple 4 step process to begin to rewire or hardwire your brain for happiness.

The acronym for his process is HEAL:

H – Have or create a positive experience

E – Enhance or enrich the positive experience

A – Absorb the positive experience

L  – Link the positive experience to a negative experience

Here’s one example of how hardwiring happiness worked for me.

Just a few weeks ago, after a tornado induced power outage during which we were without power and water in our home for almost 3 days, I went for a walk.  I was hot.  I was annoyed.  My kids were crabby and irritable.  I was frustrated.   Everything felt “wrong”.

Then, amidst the carnage of the recent tornado, I saw a flower standing all alone on the side of the road.  It was unlike any I’d seen before. It looked like a daisy, but the petals were deep purple and dark red.  Bold and beautiful it stood, reaching out for the sun.  A singular slice of beauty that had somehow survived the storm.

  • First, I walked over to the flower to “HAVE this positive experience.”
  • Next, I ENHANCED the beauty by really seeing the vibrant colors.  I noticed how the sun was shining on the flower making the colors pop and come alive.  I marveled at how, despite 95 mile an hour winds, this small unprotected flower had survived.
  • Then, I “ABSORBED‘ the experience…breathing in and out slowly,  for 10-20 seconds…really taking in the beauty in my mind’s eye, in my heart, in my entire being.  I let this moment be peace…be goodness…be beauty…be calm…be everything that was “right”.
  • Finally, I LINKED this positive to my recent negative experiences…the discomfort…the anxieties…the inconveniences and hassles of the past few days without power and water.  I intentionally brought all my feelings of irritation, frustration, worry, overwhelm, and discomfort forward, and let them slowly be “washed over” by this current moment of happiness, peace and calm that I experienced in the beauty of this flower.

Practicing this HEAL process repeatedly is one way you too can begin to hardwire happiness into your brain.

Happiness really is a choice.  And it really is within reach.  What most of us don’t realize, it that it’s also a set of skills.  Skills we first need to take the time to learn and then to practice, daily.

So what are you waiting for?  Make that call to get your counseling process started. Go check out Hanson’s book.

What greater payoff could there possibly be for a small investment of your time than greater life happiness?

Wishing you oh so many moments of  happiness…and always ready to support your journey…


The 5 Essential Steps On Your Way To Healthy and Happy

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