The Neuroscience of Hardwiring Happiness

The Neuroscience of Hardwiring Happiness

Hardwiring Happiness & Neuroscience

Did you know that you have the power to change your mindset? Do you see your cup as half empty or half full? What would you need to change in order to have a more positive outlook, more energy, and a more optimistic attitude? Consider this approach to hardwiring happiness into how you think.

When we grow up in a negative environment or toxic family system, or we are in an unhealthy marriage or relationship, our thoughts and attitudes often change for the worst.  This builds infrastructure in the brain’s circuitry to support negative thinking patterns.  These negativity biases get hardwired into the left and right brain, and causes us to automatically assume the worst.

This is a coping mechanism that is designed to protect us, and help us survive in difficult circumstances or surrounding. This is similar to when we were cavemen & we needed to respond or react quickly to danger in our environment.

This causes the amygdala to kick into gear, causing a fight flight freeze response in the body.  When we are in panic mode, the rest of our higher functioning brain shuts off. EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing trauma) therapy helps to reset the brain and turn back on the higher functioning parts of the brain, including the frontal cortex & the hippocampus. This helps our nervous systems to relax and our brain to work optimally.

If the brain is over stressed and traumatized throughout the lifetime, this can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s in the long term. Our brain is not working properly when we’re in constant stress filled conditions.

We need a brain reboot (see EMDR blog).

Change Your Brain

Rick Hanson PHD, is on staff with the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. He wrote a book called Hardwiring Happiness, and in it, he talks about how we can change our brains, and neural networks, in order to experience life with a more positive mindset.

There are specific steps that you can implement in your life, in order to change your brain, and your outlook.

These include steps like meditating on the positives. One way to do this is to do five senses meditation outside, and notice what you are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and feeling in your body. As you concentrate on embodying this experience, try to bask in the moment, and memorize how it makes you feel.  Do this for two to three minutes per day.

Journal about 3 to 5 things per day that you are grateful for, even if they seem small. It could be some thing like running water, electricity a place to live, a favorite pet, friend or family member.  Again, try to embody these memories and let your heart connect and fill up with gratitude. This helps to build positive connections between the left and right brain.

Hardwiring Happiness will remind you who you are. At the end of each EMDR session, as you hold pulsars in your left and right hands, with alternating pulses, I will say a series of positive words for you to absorb. You can imagine your supporters saying these things to you, or you saying them to yourself. It can even be people you have loved and lost, a spiritual mentor, an angel, or the Universe. This will help you remember who you are, create positive infrastructure in your brain, and remind you of your greatness!

Jayma Jamieson, MA, NCC, LPC