Buddha’s Brain Summary – April 2022

Author: Rick Hanson, Richard Mendius

Short Summary
Buddha’s Brain (2009) is a guide to achieving healthier relationships, a positive mindset, and peace that combines neurology with Buddhist teachings. In this Book, Neurologist Richard Mendius along with Rick Hanson sets out to explain how greater emotional resistance and intelligence can get you through the hardest of times. You will find alternative ways in which you can carry out small everyday activities. The book explains how by adding a few practices like meditation, self-reflection, and composure you gain a lot of control over your mental well-being.
buddha's brain
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary

From a neurologist’s expertise, this book promises to teach you several tricks. How your brain creates love, peace, confusion anger, and other such emotions.

It teaches you how you can train your brain, be more mindful, relieve anxiety, and increase the level of happiness you feel. Hanson explains that we can control our brains by training our minds. Our minds are responsible for interpreting the chemicals released by the brain through synapses. The same signal can either produce happiness or anxiety. It is up to us to train our minds and regain control to become happier.

The book guides you to self-reflect and recreates opportunities that make you happy.  Gain your composure and wisdom. Cultivate passion love and empathy. Know that negative emotions are valid but do not dwell long with them. Be mindful. Practice meditation and say kind things to yourself.

Buddha’s Brain Key Points

Mind and Brain Together are Responsible for How You Feel

The Brain is physical. It controls our neurons that transmit signals on the other hand our mind is several mental occurrences. Our thoughts, desires, and feelings. So whatever we consciously experience is a result of the interaction of brain and mind. While the Brain transmits signals it’s the job of our mind to interpret them. Hence it is important to train our minds so that we can interpret the signals correctly released by the brain. The world’s best leaders and spiritual guides like Moses, Mohammed, Gandhi, Jesus, and Buddha took charge of their minds in order to become mindful and happier and we can do the same.

Cultivate Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

To overcome the negativity we need to increase our chances of experiencing happiness. Fortify intentions refuse to react to everything and be more centered. Think of what makes you happy and try to duplicate it in your daily life. Feed and nurture the love inside of you. Try to self-reflect to gain wisdom and strength. Repeat the patterns and practices that make you happy.

Stop Dwelling in Your Pain

One of the main lessons the book teaches you is moving past your pain. Many of us tend to live in the bubble of sorrow because it feels known and comforting to us.  What happens to you is inevitable. You cannot escape fate. However, you can choose to not cry for months over what has already happened. You cannot change it but if you are able to leave it in the past good things can happen. Our brain can create virtual realities that lead us to make assumptions. 

We experience pain both physically and mentally. For example, you got wet on your way to the office because it was raining. This was inevitable.  Now as a human you may start shooting another “dart” at yourself and this will be mental. You might find yourself cursing how you should have left earlier so that you wouldn’t face rain, or how you forgot to bring an umbrella. This self-inflicted suffering gets absorbed in our bodies. You cannot control the physical aspect of suffering but you can control the mental aspect.

Mindfulness, Intentions, and Composure

When you strive to become more mindful your heart rate is reduced. You feel calmer and more peaceful.  You might have read positive affirmations sometimes while going through your social media. I am strong, I am healthy, I am successful. They may feel absurd to you because society programs us to think only negatively about ourselves but research shows they help rewire your brain. If you keep repeating them to yourself you will eventually feel good. Gain composure. Act like you are in control. Composure will help you keep your cravings in check. You won’t give in and become greedy. Similarly, if you feel bad about something composure will enable you to not avoid it forever.


Instead of seeking external validation, mediation will help you to dig deeper inside yourself. You began to feel the love and calmness that resides inside of you.  It is important for both your mental and physical well-being. People who meditate have a lesser level of stress-related ailments such as high blood pressure and insomnia.

Buddha’s Brain Quotes

“The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences—and in particular, to take them in so they become a permanent part of you.” -Rick Hanson

“Resentment is when I take poison and wait for you to die.” -Rick Hanson

“Virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom are supported by the three fundamental functions of the brain: regulation, learning, and selection. Your brain regulates itself—and other bodily systems—through a combination of excitatory and inhibitory activity.” -Rick Hanson

Buddha’s Brain Review

There are many ideas and strategies that the author explains well for all of us to become happier versions of ourselves and you will never get bored throughout the book.  It will provide you with very practical ways of increasing your level of happiness such as mediating, forgiveness, and self-reflection. The combination of Buddhist teachings with neuroscience makes it an interesting read.

To Whom I Would Recommend Buddha’s Brain

  • To the unhappy woman in her thirties looking for ways to cultivate happiness.
  • The struggling millennials trying to develop emotional intelligence.
  • To everyone who is in their past to find happiness, control their thoughts and emotions.

Link: https://amzn.to/3zH1ebo