Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science Of Contementment, Calm, And Confidence, by Rick Hanson, read by the author
It is easy to be disappointed with a book like this, especially the audiobook version. The author combines bogus evolutionary just-so stories with equally bogus Buddhist meditation, and equally bogus psychobabble to try to promote a new “science” (because everything must be a science) of happiness. Even so, this is not a book without value. There is a lot that is disappointing about it, including the author’s hypnotic voice and his efforts to calm down the reader the way that a practicing clinical psychologist would try to calm someone down while you were sitting on their couch, which is particularly disappointing because I listen to audiobooks while driving and the author (wisely) points out that one should not conduct these exercises while one is driving, which made a lot of the therapeutic aspects of the book worthless for me because I could not do them while they were going on in the audiobook. So, take it from me and do not listen to this audiobook while you are driving. If you are going to listen to it, listen to it at home where you are in a quiet place where relaxing is safe.
The contents of this book are highly repetitive, but there is at least something of worth within the frequent repetition. The author is seeking to promote a four-step method of promoting happiness and contentment in the mind called Heal, which is of course an acronym. First, one has good experiences. Then one enriches it by lingering on it long enough and with enough attention that it is not immediately forgotten. After that one absorbs it into one’s long-term memory so that it allows one to better one’s perspective and help shape the mind and how it operates, overcoming the mind’s negative bias. After that, one can link the positive experience with related negative experiences so that traumas can be overcome and hurts can lesson their hold on our minds and perspectives. If the author gives a lot of bogus ideas about why this particular mental system was designed, and at least on occasion he seems to concede that it was designed that way but he is unwilling to explore the ramifications of that, and if he is more inclined to soothe than to explore, and to try to engage in the power of positive thinking as well as the importance of positive psychology in the larger sense to help out people, this book at least has some value.
As a reader of many books relating to the subject of contentment and its opposites, it is something that tends to deeply bother me that there is so much effort among those who are part of the psychological community to promote Buddhist thinking and religious practice. This author is definitely a major offender here but far from the only one in that regard. Mixing humanistic psychology, evolutionary biology, and Buddhist theology and practice would seem to be a perverse way of avoiding the religious truth of Judeo-Christianity. Why is it that the author is so intent on avoiding this religious truth when he explores nearly every other culturally acceptable error that exists? It would seem as if a large part of it is the fact that the author wants to be an authority rather than recognize authority, and wants to believe that humanity is basically good instead of afflicted with some sort of deep corrupt bent towards sin and folly. Regretfully, in his effort to be positive and to encourage positivity the author has run away from the often unpleasant truths about humanity and the corruption of sinful human nature. Positivity with the price of neglecting these truths is not worth the cost.