Hardwire Your Brain for Happiness

By Maaheem "Mak" Akhtar

“Don’t worry, be happy.” Everyone says that, but never reveals how. Why is that?

Did you know that happy salesmen sell 37% more and that companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%? Sounds like happiness is beyond fluff. It can even improve employee wellbeing and productivity.

The beauty of happiness is that it’s a learnable trait. Dr. Rick Hanson, author of the new release, Hardwiring Happiness, sat down with our founder to discuss scientifically-backed ways to train your brain to be happier. Based on the concepts of neuroplasticity, it’s understood that neurons that fire together wire together. That means the brain gets better at doing the things it does most often (both good and bad). And taking time, even if just a minute, in your day to build skills you want in your life is imperative to successful training. Think about the one thing you want more of in your life (resilience, happiness, mindfulness, etc.) and dedicate a bit of time to it regularly. It takes practice – just like creating a good habit or learning a musical instrument. Slow and steady wins the race.

Negativity bias

One of the biggest challenges to hardwiring happiness in your brain is a phenomenon called negativity bias. The idea that negative experiences, thoughts or emotions have a greater impact on us psychologically than neutral or positive experiences do. Think about the last time you put in a lot of time to get dressed up and go to a party. All seven of your closest friends there complimented you on your outfit. You were beaming with confidence and standing taller. Suddenly, a random stranger snickers at your choice of shoes and points them out to their friend. How does that make you feel? What are you more likely to focus on the rest of the night?

  1. Seven people who complimented you
  2. One person who criticized you

If you’re like most people, you’ll choose option b. It’s easy to have your confidence shaken in moments like these. Awareness of the negativity bias and inoculating ourselves against it also counts as brain training and is an important step in hardwiring happiness into your brain.

As Dr. Hanson likes to say, “Figure out what your personal Vitamin C is,” whether it’s a 5-minute daily meditation or reading 3 pages of a good book before bed, and take a small dosage of it as often as you can.

Missed the live webcast? No problem. Click here to view the recording.


Posted by Maaheem "Mak" Akhtar- 20 October, 2018

Mak does all things words at Whil. She is also on the eternal quest for the greatest piece of mind and peace of cake. Ice hockey, mindfulness, live music and learning about Psychology and culture are some other things she likes.