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Creating Lasting Happiness in the New Year

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (from Random House in October ...Read More

The old-fashioned saying that “practice makes perfect” is true for one’s well-being and relationships. Picking just one thing to think about or do in your mind each day helps make the practice easier.

Keep it simple. But stick with it. For example, drawing on a few practices in my book, Just One Thing:

Notice that you truly are basically alright right now several times a day, which would help undo the anxious background murmur we inherited through evolution.

Really enjoy your hands, drawing you into more intimate and sensual contact with things around you.

“Fill the hole in your heart” by sensing that key positive experiences are sinking down into you and touching places of old lack or pain. For example, since I was a shy and nerdy kid who felt lonely and unwanted, I’ll deliberately sense that experiences these days of feeling included and valued are soothing and feeding the younger layers of my mind. Neurologically, this gradually infuses resources into old wounds, helping to heal them in the process.

Take refuge a few times each day in one or more things that are sources of strength, refueling, or inspiration for you. Simply say to yourself, “I take refuge in _______ ,” or just get a feeling of being connected with this refuge, as if you are already in it.

Whatever your practice is, take a moment to recognize its value for you. Keep bringing it to mind, at least once or twice a day. If you take care of your practice, it will take care of you.

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