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Vlog with Dr Rick Hanson

Updated: Aug 24

Each month we'll interview an expert that has influenced our book Wellbeing In the Primary Classroom. This month we spoke to author of Hardwiring Happiness, psychologist Dr Rick Hanson.

Dr Rick Hanson

Rick Hanson is a senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley University, and also a NY Times best-selling author. His new book, Resilient, is out this month! He's an expert on happiness and wellbeing, and has written extensively on how to hardwire our everyday experiences into neural pathways that ensure wellbeing is at the core of our being.

When I was writing my book, Rick kindly agreed to read my chapter entitled 'What Went Well?' where I explore how the innate negativity bias can get in the way of children's happiness but that we can teach children some simple activities to help them rewire this bias to savour and notice the positive in their lives more. I caught up with Rick to ask him some questions and each day this week I'll publish a new clip from the interview...enjoy!

What is the negativity bias?

Rick explains that our brains are like Teflon for good experiences but Velcro for bad ones. But, all is not lost, as we can rewire this bias for the bad with some simple practices. To hear what else Rick has to say, click on the video.


What's the point of happiness?

Research shows that happier people have better health, are more successful in life, enjoy better relationships and even live longer! But if we are designed to have a negativity bias to ensure our survival, what's the point of happiness and positive emotion from an evolutionary point of view? Rick fills us in, so click the video.

Rewire the negativity bias


Although we are hardwired to notice the negative more, so that we can avoid it, it is

possible to rewire our brains to notice and savour the positive in our lives more. This makes our brains stickier for positive experiences, which in turn builds our inner resources to help buffer us in times of stress. Rick explains more in this clip.

A short practice to hardwire happiness

If you really want to know the key steps to take to help you hardwire your positive and happy experiences into your core, Rick explains the process here. Essentially we need to 'have' and experience, then 'enjoy' that experience in the moment, stay with the experience slightly longer than normal and let it sink into us. Here's to hardwiring happiness!

How can teachers develop more resilience?

According to Rick, if you were to set up an experiment to induce feelings of stress and

learned helplessness in the participants, you'd set up life just like a modern classroom! But, there are practical things teachers can do to feel more in control. Watch this video to find out the best ways to handle stress, develop more resilience and cope with life in school.

Adrian Bethune

Adrian is a primary school teacher and author of Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom – A Practical Guide to Teaching Happiness (due out on 6th September 2018).

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London & Herts, UK

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