Dr. Rick Hanson has spent decades gathering research, information, practices, and other resources to help people turn everyday experiences into a powerful sense of lasting well-being. With simple practices, you can hardwire more happiness, love, and wisdom into your brain and your life
Resilience, positive emotions, compassion, gratitude, and other inner strengths lower stress, grow well-being and effectivenessl. Like any other mental capability, inner strengths are supported by structures in the brain. So, how can a person develop the neural networks that support inner strengths?
Through what’s called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” the main way to develop inner strengths is to have experiences of them; repeated feelings of gratitude make a person more grateful. As neuroscientists might say, positive neural traits are built from positive mental states.
But here’s the problem: the brain is bad at learning from good experiences but good at learning from bad ones. In a scientific paper famously titled Bad Is Stronger Than Good, Roy Baumeister and colleagues listed many ways that the human brain has a “negativity bias.” We continually look for negative information, over-react to it, and then quickly store these reactions in brain structure. For example, we learn faster from pain than from pleasure, and negative interactions have more impact on a relationship than positive ones. In effect, our brain is like Velcro for the bad but Teflon for the good.
This suggests that many of the positive experiences we have in everyday life or in formal trainings are not converted into neural structure: they feel good in the moment but have little lasting value. This negativity bias kept our ancestors alive in tough conditions, but now it’s a “bug” in the Stone Age brain in the 21st century: a bottleneck that blocks good experiences from becoming inner strengths built into neural structure.
For more information, check out Rick Hanson's Ted Talks.
Fiona O’Donnell has completed a 3 year Master ’s degree in Mindfulness Based Approaches at Bangor University, Wales. She has completed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher Training Levels 1 & 2 at Bangor University and is a trained teacher in Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) with The Centre for Mindful Self Compassion, California. Fiona has attended training in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Oxford University. She has also completed the .b with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MISP), Positive Neuroplasticity Professional Training with Dr Rick Hanson and Google’s Search Inside Yourself’ Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Training with SIYLI. Fiona is currently training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy with the Sensorimotor Institute (Somatic Psychology).
Fiona is a Practice Tutor on the University College Dublin’s (UCD) Masters in Mindfulness Based Interventions and a Teacher Trainer on The Mindfulness Centre’s Professional Diploma in Mindfulness (MBSR). Fiona has a Masters in Applied Social Research from Trinity College Dublin and a Bachelor of Social Science from Queen’s University Belfast. Fiona is a qualified Reflexologist (ITEC/AOR) and is trained in Occupational First Aid.
Fiona offers mindfulness courses to people with low mood and anxiety, young people in addiction, alcohol and drug dependency and specializes in mindfulness in the work place and mindful self-compassion. She also teaches mindfulness 1-to-1. Fiona adheres to the Irish Good Practice guidelines for Mindfulness Teachers and has participated in a number of intensive mindfulness retreats worldwide.
Fiona’s previous work experience includes several years in Children’s Services in Dublin’s North West Inner City, prior to working for The Atlantic Philanthropies which developed strategies and funding for Children & Youth, Education and Mental Health throughout Ireland.