Rick Hanson PhD
Mar 14, 2013
Goodwill and ill will are about intention: the will is for good or ill. These intentions are expressed through action and inaction, word and deed, and-especially-thoughts. How do you feel when you sense another person taking potshots at you in her mind? What does it feel like to take potshots of your own? Ill will plays a lot of mini-movies in the simulator, those little grumbling stories about other people. Remember: while the movie is running, your neurons are wiring together.
Ill will tries to justify itself. In the moment, the rationalizations sound plausible, like the whisperings of Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings. Only later do we realize how …
Mar 04, 2013
The Buddha taught that we spend most of our life like children in a burning house, so entranced by our games that we don’t notice the flames, the crumbling walls, the collapsing foundation, the smoke all around us. The games are our false refuges, our unconscious attempts to trick and control life, to sidestep its inevitable pain.
Yet, this life is not only burning and falling apart; sorrow and joy are woven inextricably together. When we distract ourselves from the reality of loss, we also distract ourselves from the beauty, creativity, and mystery of this ever-changing world.
One of my clients, Justin, distracted himself from the loss of his wife, Donna, by armoring …
Rick Hanson PhD
Jul 17, 2012
Forgiveness is a tricky topic.
First, it has two distinct meanings:
- To give up resentment or anger
- To pardon an offense; to stop seeking punishment or recompense
Here, I am going to focus on the first meaning, which is broad enough to include situations where you have not let someone off the hook morally or legally, but you still want to come to peace about whatever happened. Finding forgiveness can walk hand in hand with pursuing justice.
Second, there is sometimes the fear that if you forgive people, that means you approve of their behavior (like giving them a free pass for wrongdoing). Actually, you can both view an action as morally reprehensible and no longer …
Feb 01, 2012
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.” Thich Nhat Hanh
I grew up in a family dominated by alcoholism, narcissism, illness and dysfunction. There were four of us, my mother, my father, my older brother and myself.
From a young age, I had a lot of responsibility. I was a parentified child, caring for my older brother who was epileptic and also caring for my parents whose main focus of concentration was on themselves.
Growing up I was filled with confusion, dissatisfaction, and suppressed anger.
As a child, I did not know other children were busy playing and being cared for. For me it was all about caring for others. I was left alone while my father worked, my mother shopped, and my brother …
Jan 21, 2012
In the interests of full disclosure I should say that Ashley Davis Bush, the author of Shortcuts to Inner Peace: 70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity, attends the same Buddhist center I teach at. I’ve bumped into her and her husband a literally a couple of times, but it’s a large center, we’re not by any stretch of the imagination friends, and I’m under no obligation, inner or outer, to say nice things about her book.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Shortcuts to Inner Peace grows out of the meeting of Bush’s practice as a psychotherapist, and her personal Buddhist practice. She knew that many of her clients …
Rick Hanson PhD
Dec 29, 2011
Have you ever watched two people quarrel, or otherwise be stuck in a conflict with each other? Usually, if either or both of them simply acknowledged one or more things, that would end the fight.
Recall a time someone mistreated you, let you down, dropped the ball, made an error, spoke harshly, was unskillful, got a fact wrong, or affected you negatively even if that was not their intention. (This is what I mean, very broadly, under the umbrella heading of “fault.”) If the person refuses to admit fault, how do you feel? Probably dismayed, frustrated, uneasy, distanced, less willing to trust, and more defensive yourself. The interaction …
Dec 12, 2011
I don’t know if anger, rage, and frustration are getting more common, but it certainly seems like they are.
As we find ourselves snarled in impossibly heavy traffic, overloaded with life’s complexities, dealing with technology that we think should work but sometimes doesn’t, and struggling to survive in a precarious and heartless economic system, it seems a lot of people live with hot coals of irritability burning inside them, and that these hot coals have more than ample opportunity to burst into the flames of anger, or to erupt as emotional explosions of rage.
Techniques from meditation can help us to damp down the flames of our ill will.
Stop, drop, and love
Rick Hanson PhD
Nov 22, 2011
Lately I’ve been thinking about a kind of “case” that’s been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven’t supported me, views about what should happen that hasn’t, and implicit taking-things-personally.
In other words, the usual mess.
It’s not that I have not been mistreated – actually, I have been – nor that my analysis of things is inaccurate (others agree that what I see does in fact exist). The problem is that my case is saturated with negative emotions like anger, biased toward my own viewpoint, and full …
Oct 14, 2011
What can you do when things are about to blow? Here’s some advance on working with anger – or any other strong emotion – with mindfulness
The 1997 movie The Peacemaker is mostly a routine and forgettable thriller. In fact, it is really pretty bad, but there are two things I remember about it. The first is the pairing of George Clooney and Nicole Kidman; and second there’s a scene right at the end that has stuck in my mind as an image for how mindfulness can help in a crisis.
There’s a bomb in the UN building that’s going to blow in a few seconds. Nicole Kidman knows how to defuse these …
Wildmind Meditation News
Mar 27, 2011
Saying a prayer may help many people feel less angry and behave less aggressively after someone has left them fuming, new research suggests.
A series of studies showed that people who were provoked by insulting comments from a stranger showed less anger and aggression soon afterwards if they prayed for another person in the meantime.
The benefits of prayer identified in this study don’t rely on divine intervention: they probably occur because the act of praying changed the way people think about a negative situation, said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.
“People often turn to prayer when they’re feeling negative emotions, including anger,” he said.
“We found that prayer really can help people …