The following excerpt is from chapter one of my book – Hardwiring Happiness. You’ll find helpful guidance to deepen your understanding and practice with the material in the book with the reading guide –  //rickhanson.net/books/reading-guides#Hardwiring-Happiness.

A well-known idea in medicine and psychology is that how you feel and act—both over the course of your life and in specific relationships and situations—is determined by three factors: the challenges you face, the vulnerabilities these challenges grind on, and the strengths you have for meeting your challenges and protecting your vulnerabilities. For example, the challenge of a critical boss would be intensified by a person’s vulnerability to anxiety, but he or she could cope by calling on inner strengths of self-soothing and feeling respected by others.

We all have vulnerabilities. Personally, I wish it were not so easy for me to become worried and self-critical. And life has no end of challenges, from minor hassles like dropped cell phone calls to old age, disease and death. You need strengths to deal with challenges and vulnerabilities, and as either or both of these grow, so must your strengths to match them. If you want to feel less stressed, anxious, frustrated, irritable, depressed, disappointed, lonely, guilty, hurt, or inadequate, having more inner strengths will help you.

Inner strengths are fundamental to a happy, productive, and loving life. For example, research on just one strength, positive emotions, shows that these reduce reactivity and stress, help heal psychological wounds, and improve resilience, well-being, and life satisfaction. Positive emotions encourage the pursuit of opportunities, create positive cycles, and promote success. They also strengthen your immune system, protect your heart, and foster a healthier and longer life.

For instance, I lacked the discipline to do my cardio-exercises, but then I found a fitness gadget called “Fitno” and now I am fully motivated. Of course, it’s a material thing, but even sometimes physical things create a motivation boost you have been looking for. Let yourself be free and enjoy it.