Negativity Bias or Clarity?

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We all have biases. Some serve us better than others. When neuropsychologist Rick Hanson talks about rewiring your brain for happiness, it seems like any biases he mentions are worth considering.

Hanson is the author of “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science Of Contentment, Calm and Confidence” and also “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.”

He is widely quoted throughout this Huffington Post article from last Thursday called “How To Wire Your Brain For Happiness.” Mostly Hanson is recommending mindfulness, staying present and giving more attention to the little joys and wonders of life. But interestingly, he says this is important to do because we are neurologically wired with a “negativity bias” that predisposes us to focusing on the bad things about life.

Perhaps one of my biases is in favor of the view presented in Jamie Smart’s book “Clarity.” I highly recommend this book often and reviewed it here.

Smart says “clarity of mind” is our default state. That means we are naturally in tune with our inner wisdom and can be relaxed about navigating life with inspiration from within.

To illustrate, Smart notes that we often fall for a “trick of the mind” that temporarily fools us into believing circumstances are responsible for how we feel. But as he shows through countless examples and provocative metaphors, it is always our thoughts about a situation that determine how we feel.

This is “clarity of understanding.” He says that when we remember this, our default state, clarity of mind, naturally returns.

Both Hanson and Smart have a lot to offer that is worth “hardwiring” into your mind and body. If they seem to disagree on what is a fundamental human bias, you can either just appreciate different schools of thought and leave it at that; or you might consider which view serves you better and choose to adopt the one more likely to foster your happiness.

That’s all any of us want for you.

Posted: 10/21/13

A longer version of this article appeared in Communities at


About the Author:

Dave Berman offers Life Coaching, Laughter Coaching, Laughnosis and Hypnotherapy. He earned a B.S. in Communication from Cornell University and has extensive experience as a public speaker and workshop facilitator. His book, “Laughter For the Health of It,” co-written with Kelley T. Woods, is available here. For speaking or writing requests, or for a free coaching/hypnotherapy consultation, write to Dave, connect with manifest_positivity on Skype, or use the Viber app to call his mobile number from anywhere in the world +1 707-845-3749.

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