About Dr. Rick Hanson

Dr. Rick Hanson has spent decades gathering research, information, practices, and other resources to help people just like you turn everyday experiences into a powerful sense of lasting well-being that stays with you even amidst life’s many challenges.


Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a psychologist, Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His seven books have been published in 33 languages and include Making Great Relationships,NeurodharmaResilient, Hardwiring HappinessJust One ThingBuddha’s Brain,  and Mother Nurture – with over a million copies in English alone. He's the founder of the Global Compassion Coalition and the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, as well as the co-host of the Being Well Podcast – which has been downloaded over 15 million times. His free newsletters have over 260,000 subscribers and his online programs have scholarships available for those with financial needs. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on CBS, NPR, the BBC, and other major media. He began meditating in 1974 and has taught in meditation centers worldwide. He and his wife live in northern California and have two adult children. He loves the wilderness and taking a break from emails.


In His Own Words…

I grew up in a loving and stable family, mainly in the suburbs of Los Angeles; my mother was a homemaker and administrator, and my father was a zoology professor. A shy and bookish kid who loved the outdoors, I entered UCLA at 16 and graduated summa cum laude in 1974 (and was honored to be one of four “outstanding seniors” chosen by the UCLA Alumni Association). Over the next several years, I founded a successful seminar company, worked for a mathematician doing probabilistic risk analyses for things like the odds of a nuclear power plant melting down, and did management consulting. After working on a Masters in developmental psychology at San Francisco State University, I received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute in 1991, with a dissertation titled, “Gratifying control: Mothers offering alternatives to toddlers.”

My clinical practice (now closed to new clients) has included adults, couples, families, and children, as well as psychological assessments of children and adults. I have worked in several independent schools, and have given many talks to meetings of parents or child development specialists. I served on the Board of FamilyWorks, a family resource agency in Marin County, and chaired it for two years. I am a former Trustee of Saybrook University.

I co-authored my first book in 2002, Mother Nurture, with my wife Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac. – an acupuncturist specializing in clinical nutrition – and Ricki Pollycove, M.D. Many related articles and other resources can be found at www.NurtureMom.com. Jan and I have two adult children, and being parents has been the most fulfilling experience of our lives.

As we’ve learned so much more about the brain over the past twenty years, I’ve been deeply interested in the historically unprecedented meeting of modern neuroscience and ancient contemplative practices, which is the focus of my books Buddha’s Brain (2009) and Neurodharma (2020). With Rick Mendius, M.D., I founded the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom which publishes the monthly Wise Brain Bulletin and hosts the www.WiseBrain.org website.

A recurring theme in my work is the need for mental resources such as mindfulness, self-compassion, and positive emotions. We acquire these resources through learning, but there has been remarkably little attention paid to the actual “how” of growing such inner strengths. My books Just One Thing (2011), Hardwiring Happiness (2013), and Resilient (2018) offer practices and teachings on this theme, and Making Great Relationships (2023) applies those ideas to our interactions with others. I also developed the online Positive Neuroplasticity Training to teach the general methods of self-directed brain change, and the related online Professional Course in applying these methods when working with others, such as in psychotherapy, coaching, and human resources training.

In 2021, my paper on positive brain change — Learning to Learn from Positive Experiences — appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Positive Psychology, December 6, 2021.

I’m a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and have been invited to speak at NASA as well as at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, and other major universities. My books have been endorsed by leading scholars, meditation teachers, and self-help experts, including Thich Nhat Hanh, Lori Gottlieb, Stephen Porges, Tara Brach, Kristin Neff, Jack Kornfield, Lori Deschene, Dan Siegel, Harville Hendrix, Steven Hayes, Geneen Roth, Robert Emmons, Paul Gilbert, Mark Williams, Sharon Salzberg, Roman Krznaric, Jim Doty, Jennifer Loudon, Stan Tatkin, Michael Singer, Paul Gilbert, Christine Carter, Frank Ostaseski, Philip Zelazo, Jerome Engel, Christina Feldman, Shauna Shapiro, Ruby Wax, Joseph Goldstein, Roger Walsh, Shawn Achor, Joan Borysenko, Jim Gordon, Dacher Keltner, Daniel Levitin, and Deepak Chopra.

In 2022, I founded the Global Compassion Coalition (GCC) with colleagues from around the world, with a mission to create a world in which people and nature are cared for and thrive. 

My personal interests include rock-climbing, sailing, novels, travel – I lived one year in Finland and one in Germany – and having fun with family and friends. You can reach me through my administrator by using this form.

For more information, please see my Summary CV or Full CV.

With Appreciation

I have learned a great deal from the people or organizations below, and am very grateful to them. Many of them are supported through the generosity of others, and if you were so inclined, that would be one more good thing in this world.