Just One Thing

Just One Thing

Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time

Each day we are pushed around by external forces – from the economy to the people we live and work with – and by reactions to these that come from ancient reptile/mammal/primate/caveman circuits inside our own brains. But now, with the power of modern neuroscience, we can take charge of the brain and gradually change it for the better.

That’s the promise of Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time – which shows you down-to-earth ways to build up a “buddha brain” for more peace of mind in stressful times, greater inner strength and confidence, and an unshakeable sense of contentment and worth.

Just One Thing is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleGood ReadsPowell’s Books, Kobo, and local bookstores. It is being published in 13 languages – see the Versions and Stores page for details.

Just One Thing has been praised by leading scholars, psychologists, and meditation teachers – including  Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., Tara Brach, Ph.D., Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Gordon Peerman, D. Min., Kristin Neff, Ph.D., Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., Sharon Salzberg, Bill O’Hanlon, Jennifer Louden, Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D., Marci Shimoff, James Baraz, Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., Bob Stahl, Ph.D.Toni Bernhard, Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D., Raphael Cushnir, Terry Patten, Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., Daniel Ellenberg, Ph.D., Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.Stan Tatkin, Psy.D.and Wes Nisker – and you can read their endorsements.

The original meaning of the word “buddha” is one who knows how to be truly happy and effective. Developing a buddha brain is foranyone – Christian, Jewish, atheist, etc. - who wants this kind of brain.

The book presents 52 practices – simple actions inside your mind – that light up neural networks of deep well-being and resilience. And because “neurons that fire together, wire together,” each time you do a practice, it strengthens key neural circuits like building a muscle in the gym.

Each practice is grounded in modern neuroscience, positive psychology, Rick’s background in the very real world of business and raising a family. Each bite-size chapter introduces a new practice, explains why it’s important, and shows you how to do it.

We are so busy these days that it’s great to have just one thing to focus on to make your life better. Practice is not some flabby, airy-fairy mumbo-jumbo – it takes grit and honest work – you earn the results, and can respect yourself for them.

Broken up into five user-friendly sections, this pocket-sized “owner’s manual plus toolbox” helps you transform your brain from the inside out. The practices offered take at most a few minutes a day – and can be done anytime, anywhere. They include:

  • Get on Your Own Side
  • See the Good in Yourself
  • Feed Your Brain
  • Fill the Hole in Your Heart
  • Risk the Dreaded Experience
  • Accept the Limits of Your Influence
  • Don’t Throw Darts
  • Notice You’re Alright Right Now
  • and so much more!

Bottom line, it’s the law of little things. A small thing repeated each day adds up over time to produce big results; a small thing that is in your power to do – in a world in which so many things are not. Just one small thing that could change your life!

London Insight Meditation (3/15/12) Perhaps not surprisingly, out of the toolbox of meditation practices that are on offer to students engaged in mindfulness courses such as MBCT and MBSR, the most popular tool, and the one which most students are still using months if not years after finishing their 8-week course, is something called the Three Minute Breathing Space. The fact that it only takes three minutes to practice has a big part to play, I suspect, in its popularity.

If you’ve never done it before, why not give it a go right now. For sixty precious seconds of consciousness take a break from the screen by closing your eyes and “simply” becoming aware of :

a) sensations present in the body (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral)
b) thoughts sputtering, whizzing, or blasting through your mind
c) the general feeling-tone hum of You Here Now: harried, absorbed, numb, inspired, piqued, pooped, whatever.

Try it, for just one minute.

And now for the next minute, bringing the focus of attention to breath: just feeling into and staying with your breath wherever you notice yourself being breathed (chest, abdomen, nostrils).

Final minute: expanding the field of awareness around the whole body again, conscious of sound and space cradling us in this very moment. Breathing softly and kindly, with as much acceptance as possible, taking in the whole of your transient body-mind-environment: fully, flowingly.

Three minutes of conscious practice are sometimes all it takes to release us from some of those cunning little hooks and barbs of the mind, designed to drag you places you wouldn’t necessarily choose to visit: the abattoir of depression, the walls-closing-in claustrophobia of stress and anxiety, combat zones of jealousy, indignation, and bitterness.

This gem of a book by the neuropsychologist Rick Hanson is a veritable treasure trove of similar “super-succinct” tools. Many of them harness Hanson’s particular talent in putting a neurobiological spin on traditional contemplative practices without scuzzing the beauty and integrity of the former, or dumbing down the sense-making science of the latter.

I’ve been carrying around a copy of Just One Thing on my e-Reader and mobile phone for the last few months (though it also comes in a truly pocket-sized paperback). A few times a week I browse through the index and select one of the 52 contemplative practices from five different categories (Be Good to Yourself, Enjoy Life, Build Strengths, Engage the World, Be at Peace), digesting the clear and lucid couple of pages on offer between one tube stop and the next. And then as more people enter the carriage, and the doors close, I give myself a few minutes of practicing that Just One Thing.

Today was Chapter 14: ‘Take More Breaks’.

Between Kingsbury and Wembley Park, I read Rick’s riff on “Rest”: how for hundreds of millions of years, our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived (bar the odd plague or sabre-toothed tiger attack) a pretty chilled out existence: “life moved at the pace of the walk, in rhythm with the seasons, and with the rising and setting of the sun each day”. And if that sounds so wise as to almost seem like a banal truism, consider this: “that the human body and mind evolved to be in a state of rest or leisure – in other words, on a break – much of the time”.

Once Hanson’s convinced you that taking more breaks might actually be beneficial to your modus operandi, he rather helpfully, tells you how to do this. From the various suggestions he makes, I particularly like these (as challenging as I find it to walk the talk):

  • Renounce everything else — When it’s time for a break, drop everything else for that time. Truly “clock out.”
  • Take lots of microbreaks — Many times a day, step out of the stream of doingness for at least a few seconds: close your eyes for a moment; take a couple of deep breaths; shift your visual focus to the farthest point you can see; repeat a saying or prayer; stand up and move about.
  • Get out—Look out the window; go outside and stare up at the sky; find a reason to walk out of a meeting.
  • Unplug—If only for a few minutes, stop answering your phone(s); shut down e-mails; turn off the TV or radio; take off the earphones.
  • Make your body happy — Wash your face; eat a cookie; smell something good; stretch; lie down; rub your eyes or ears.
  • Keep your stress needle out of the red zone—If you find yourself getting increasingly frustrated or tense in some situation, disengage and take a break before your head explodes. Staying out of “red zone” stress is a serious priority for your long-term health and well-being.

Fueled with Just One Thingness, I then endeavour, at least until the next Metro headline catches my flitting attention, to give it a whirl. Or at least have the intention of giving it a whirl. And sometimes I even manage to do what I intend to do. That feels especially good.

If you are the sort of person (or know someone) who frequently claims that “they’d love to do some proper meditation practice, but just don’t have the time”, this book, which you can download onto their Kindle or slip into their purse might just nudge their lives a little more in the direction of peace and joy.

As everyone is at some level, or at different times, this sort of person, I expect we could all benefit from Just One Thing. Most of the practices in the book are already, very generously (Chapter 41: ‘Be Generous’) available on Rick’s website. and if you sign up to his mailing list, he’ll send you his new JOTs as he produces them. But it’s also great to have these collected in one paper or e-volume, particularly for those times when you really have “unplugged” and renounced life via broadband. That is to say: given yourself over, in the words of Mary Oliver, to letting “the soft animal of your body love what it loves”. –Steve Wasserman

Edge Magazine (3/8/12) You’ve heard the expression, “It’s the little things that count.” Research has shown that little daily practices can change the way your brain works, too. This book offers simple brain-training practices you can do every day to protect against stress, lift your mood, and find greater emotional resilience. Just One Thing is a treasure chest of over fifty practices created specifically to deepen your sense of well-being and unconditional happiness. Just one practice each day can help you: be good to yourself; enjoy life as it is; build on your strengths; be more effective at home and work; and make peace with your emotions.

Baby Center (3/2/12) If you’re sick of your brain (the way I often am), I have good news. You can transform it – without getting a transplant. Brains, it turns out, are responsive to mental exercises (the eggheads refer to this as “neuroplasticity.”) Thus, we can make ourselves become more mindful, less overreactive, less anxious, more relaxed, and more present-centered.

And Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain, One Simple Practice at a Time by Dr. Rick Hanson, is the perfect brain-training guide.

No one paid me to say that. True, the publisher sent me a free copy in exchange for my giving an honest review, but we really can’t even count that modest swag – because I prompty lost the free copy and had to go out and buy another. (How apt a metaphor can you get, by the way? Mindfulness itself eludes me, escapes me, flies from me.)

But my paid copy was absolutely worth the money. While the book isn’t specifically directed at parents, it’s perfect for us, because it breaks down the complexities of stress reduction into simple, short exercises that can easily fit in among the crush of tasks in our daily lives.

So. No day-long silent retreats. No marathon meditation sessions. No yoga classes. Great as that stuff is, I don’t have time for it.

But I do have time for these exercises – because I can work on them while doing other things. For example, the chapter on slowing down includes this gem: “If you’re stuck on hold on a phone call, look around for something that’s beautiful or interesting, or enjoy the peacefulness of simply breathing.” Yes! This is decidedly preferable to gnashing one’s teeth and freaking out about all the other crap one needs to be doing.

Another gem: “Several times a day, notice that you’re basically all right.”

And another: “Do a few things more slowly than usual. Leisurely lift the cup to your lips, don’t rush through a meal, let others finish talking before jumping in, or stroll to a meeting instead of racing.”

See? The book is full of stuff like this. You’re supposed to pick out the things that work for you, practice them (and practice and practice and practice them), and then watch your stress level descend.

No brain transplants available, last I checked – but at least now I have some optimism that I can get my stress under control. I’m getting ready to send my brain to obedience school, basically. We’ll see how it turns out, but I’m feeling hopeful. –Evonne Lack

Single Minded Women (1/2/12) Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time, by Rick Hanson PhD, offers 52 succinct practices showing how it’s possible to use your mind to change your brain. The seemingly simple practices may be easy to underestimate, Hanson says, but they will gradually change your brain through what’s called experience-dependent neuroplasticity.

“It’s a two-way street: as your brain changes, your mind changes; and as your mind changes, your brain changes,” Hanson explains. “This means—remarkably—that what you pay attention to, what you think and feel and want, and how you work with your reactions sculpts your brain in multiple ways.”

According to Hanson, everyone has the capacity to develop a “buddha brain,” supporting the cultivation of virtue, wisdom, mindfulness and other invaluable traits. You can see mind practices as muscle building for the mind, Hanson suggests. Any single trip to the gym makes little difference, but over time, making the mental practices a habit will build the “muscle” that is the brain.

Hanson draws on his forty years of spiritual practice, and a dual career as a neuroscientist and Buddhism teacher, to show the value of these practices and then explains how we can perform these brief actions in daily life. Hanson’s methods for taking in the good with little daily experiences we often look right past encourages readers to cultivate self-compassion in a way that, unfortunately, is rarely taught or practiced in the West.

The 52 practices are divided into five sections: Be Good To YourselfEnjoy LifeBuild StrengthsEngage the World and Be at Peace. Hanson offers a number of ways to use his book, including taking “a week for each one of the 52 practices,” allowing for “a transformational year of practice.” Whichever way you decide, he says, the best way to sustain your willingness to practice is to keep the work simple and focus on one thing at a time.

In the “Get More Sleep” practice, Hanson lists the many pitfalls of sleep deprivation and the benefits of getting more sleep. In busy lives we tend to look past some of the simple truths he points out, like questioning the reasons we don’t get enough sleep—the extra hour of TV or house chores. The author then outlines many practices which can get us the amount of sleep we need to improve our health and wellbeing. Many of the practices are little actions we can do to tell the mind it’s time to get some sleep (relaxing your tongue, lips, jaw and eyes; or resting a finger or knuckle against your lip).

“Dream Big Dreams” encourages us to access our inner core by asking “What are the dreams that matter to me most?” We are guided through a simple mental exercise of imagining ourselves as we were at different life stages, before asking “those individuals,” “What are your dreams?” This exercise encourages us not to dismiss our dreams as silly or impossible and offers techniques to free us from snap judgments, so we can clearly hear the intentions behind the really big dreams of our past.

Just One Thing teaches us changing the brain is no lightweight activity but is a practice that can transform your life. Hanson believes ultimately we can’t stop the brain from taking the shape the mind rests upon, but the choice of where to rest the mind is ours. If it regularly rests on thoughts of worry, self-criticism and anger, we sculpt a very different brain than a mind cultivating traits of relaxation, self-compassion and letting go of clinging. “You can’t stop the brain from changing,” Hanson says, “The only question is whether you’re getting the changes you want.” –Austin Harris

Mental Makeup (12/19/11) Dr. Rick Hanson first established himself as a pioneer in contemplative sciences with his previous book, Buddha’s Brain. As he states on his website, “Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and other great teachers were all born with a brain built essentially like anyone else’s. Then they used their minds to change their brains in ways that changed history.” Seeking to explore, educate, & inspire ordinary humans that they too, can achieve greatness, Buddha’s Brain was born. Buddha’s Brain became wildly successful in the Western world, employing endorsements amongst psychologists, meditation teachers, scientists & scholars alike; it is now enjoying success worldwide, as it is now published in 20 different languages. As a follow up, Dr. Hanson has now published Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time.

Just One Thing is a crowning jewel amongst contemplative science works. Building off of the great teachers – Jesus, Moses, the Buddha – the book offers tiny tidbits of knowledge that can lead to big changes in the brain; changes Dr. Hanson calls a “buddha’s brain”. Despite what many associate with the label (religion), a “buddha’s brain” is for anyone who wants be truly happy and effective, including those who appreciate the more secular applications of science. In fact, the book steers clear of discussing religion, and instead discusses methods for seeing reality.

Dr. Hanson begins by educating the reader on our brain’s “negativity bias”; that in fact our brains are wired to place more importance on negative news than positive news. For folks who automatically took this to be bad news, fear not. We can change the brain’s bad news bias, by simply choosing to see the good on a regular basis. Dr. H explains how whether we realize it or not, our minds are always changing, for better or for worse. Once we have an awareness of this, we can dedicate time to ensuring that any changes that occur are for the better, by making conscious decisions. The book offers over 50 simple, easy to understand (and employ!) brain training practices that allow you to become a more fully conscious individual. Each practice stems from ancestral wisdom and is supported by a plethora of research into positive psychology and modern neuroscience. By taking a few moments a day to implement these simple tools into your daily life, you can reduce stress, increase your emotional resilience, have healthier relationships, and find your center in wellness & unconditional happiness. –April “Elle” Ricchuito

Greater Good Science Center (11/11/11) In his previous best-selling book, Buddha’s Brain, Rick Hanson detailed the research that shows how our thoughts, feelings, and actions shape the neural pathways of our brains, in both positive and negative ways. Hanson, a neuropsychologist and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, set the groundwork for a neurological understanding of the benefits of contemplative practice.

In Just One Thing, he applies that understanding to daily life and provides 52 research-grounded practices that anyone can do to become happier, healthier, and more peaceful. Examples include getting more sleep, savoring life’s pleasures, seeking beauty in everyday experiences, relaxing around imperfection, and showing gratitude. For each practice, Hanson gives a short explanation of the practice and its benefits, followed by a more detailed description of how to approach it.

Of course, you don’t have to do all 52 practices to reap the benefits. Some will appeal more than others, and Hanson encourages readers to choose the ones that work best for them. “How you use your mind changes your brain—for better or worse,” writes Hanson. “You can’t stop your brain from changing.” So, why not try these practices a little bit each day and direct your brain toward the positive? No doubt, if you take Hanson’s advice, you will be doing yourself—and your brain—a big favor. –Jill Suttie

Travel to Wellness (10/11/11) If you believe, as I do, that the brain is the new frontier for wellness and well-being, then read Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing published by New Harbinger.

In this self-help book, the neuropsychologist and author of the best selling Buddha’s Brain, neatly lays out, chapter by chapter, 52 ways to manage the mind in order to shape and “sculpt” the brain.

In the introduction he writes: “This is a book of practices – simple things you can do routinely, mainly inside your mind, that will support and increase your mindfulness, sense of security and worth, resilience, effectiveness in the world, well-being, insight and inner peace.”

It’s the type of book you can pick up anytime and read just one chapter – and concentrate on that one practice for the day or week – hence the title. In every chapter I found at least one small gem of inspiration.

For instance, in Chapter Five, titled Slow Down, Hanson remarks on the North American “need for speed.” He chronicles the bad effects of chronic speediness – such as the release of stress hormones – and then in the How section (there’s one in each chapter) gives us various little ways to practice the art slowing down. I’ve ear-marked this chapter.

In Chapter 31, titled Keep Going, Hanson writes: “Of all the factors that lead to happiness and success – class origins, intelligence, personality, character, looks, luck, race, etc. – the one that typically makes the most difference is persistence.“ But he also advices that we each find the pace we can sustain. “Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

This is a great little book filled with sound advice and gems of information about how you can use your mind to change your brain – “for better or worse”. –Anne Dimon

My Zen Nana (9/26/11) A couple of interesting thoughts crossed my mind as I began reading this book. The old saying about the teacher appearing when the student is ready was the first one. The second was about how it sometimes seems as if everyone suddenly has the same idea all at once. Maybe it’s a “tipping point” thing, or an idea reaching “critical mass” and spreading suddenly throughout a population, just because it’s time. As Victor Hugo wrote, “No army can stop an idea whose time has come.”

So it was interesting to me how several books I’ve been reading lately share some similar components; they teach mindfulness in an easy-to-swallow-for-latte-sipping-multitaskers format. It only takes a minute, they tell us; no long meditation sessions or esoteric tomes to wade through. No ashram retreats or minimalist camps; no deep philosophies or dogma to buy into; no east versus west worldview conflicts or religions. Tiny chunks of practice, just sixty seconds at a time, one idea a week for no more than one year. Just keeping it simple and keeping at it, one tiny minute at a time, is the key. This is indeed today’s mindfulness.

Just One Thing is the latest addition to the pile of these books on my desk, or rather my Kindle. I liked it a lot and it added a new layer to my decades-long quest for “buddha brain.” Recent brain research has opened up new ways to look at practices such as meditation and ideas like mindfulness. The mind and the brain are no longer strangers or rivals for dominance. Hanson’s message: change one and you change the other. Nuggets of information are scattered throughout the book, such as the idea that the brain has a “negativity bias” which makes it automatically gravitate to negative thoughts rather than positive ones, a revelation that might make many breathe a sigh of relief that they are not always replaying negative thoughts and memories in their minds because of some character failing of their own. On the other hand, it points to the need for conscious, deliberate effort to lead our thoughts toward the positive to enjoy life more and affect positive outcomes.

Like some of the other books I’ve been reading lately, Hanson offers one idea for focus per week, if you spend a year on this book — one meditation, practice, thought to lead yourself back to or behavior to change at a time. The book is filled with philosophy, psychology, sacred teachings and practical advice along with the occasional foray into biology and brain chemistry, all in an easy conversational tone.

Sweet Tidbits (8/26/11) This was a well written positive little how-to guide on how to be mindful of your happiness on a daily basis. This is a novel for everyone. It’s an easily understandable guide that doesn’t go into the ‘science’ of anything or even religion. This is definitely a great read for anyone interested in trying to make their days just a bit better.

The first time I read this novel I read it front to back and I enjoyed it. I did understand; however, that some of the situations the author would discuss didn’t necessarily apply to me at the time of reading. This is going to be a great book to keep on hand for whenever I encounter a situation where a little guidance is needed. I have a feeling the ‘Relax’ chapter will have its work cut out for it though. –Bonnie

Health Insights (1/12) Dr. Rick Hanson’s extraordinary book Just One Thing is a step by step blueprint for anyone who wants to live a more positive, healthier and happier life. In his newest book, Dr Hanson, a neuropsychologist and co-founder of theWellspring Institute, helps the reader to understand that our thought processes actually lead to physical changes in the brain. In turn, these changes impact psychological and physical health including the immune system. When positive things are input, positive outcomes result.

Just One Thing is segmented into five helpful sections that lead the reader thru practical activities resulting in these positive brain changes. Part 1 emphasizes that change is possible and identifies simple steps to elicit positive change. Dr Hanson reminds the reader of the importance of self care & self-acceptance and provides tips on enhancing both.

Part 2 identifies the benefits of taking pleasure in our surroundings, getting excited, taking mental holidays and most of all practicing faith in the right things. It highlights the effect on the brain by something as simple as a smile.

In the remaining segments, Dr Hanson provides examples of how to build strength, how to increase capabilities by challenging assumptions, how to dream big and how to achieve peace.

Just One Thing is the basic primer for anyone who wants to improve. Dr Hanson’s tips are simple, straight forward and easy to follow. –Sharon Gladden

Additional Reviews

Felicia Matto-Shepard 3/12

Spirituality and Practice 2/12

These are great practices – wise and straightforward, scientific and nourishing. They can transform your life.
 Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., author of The Wise Heart, A Path with Heart

If you are looking for bite-sized daily practices that can open your heart and clear your mind, Just One Thing deserves to be at the top of your reading list. Grounded in fascinating science, psychological understanding and timeless wisdom, this book offers a rich assortment of entirely simple, doable ways you can find more happiness and ease.
– Tara Brach, Ph.D., author of Radical Happiness: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha

Just One Thing is more than just one more thing for you to read…it is Rick Hanson’s gift of four decades’ of learning about how to live with wisdom and peace.  This book is filled with a year’s weekly reflections as small, easy to understand lessons on how to live a meaningful life that will offer you new insights that will surely enHanson your life!  These small essays explore the essential questions of our times:  How do we find inner clarity in the face of outer turmoil?  How do we feel less stress and learn to be more at home in our own skin?  This gem of a book is filled with treasures that will build your relationships with others—and with yourself!  I loved soaking in the clarity and sincerity of these offerings that invite us to enter life with more vitality and to live each day to the fullest. Feast on these pages and enjoy!
– Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine. Executive Director, Mindsight Institute. Co-director, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Author: Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation and Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind

By giving us simple practices to re-wire our neural networks, Rick Hanson is literally re-minding us about what is truly important.  I plan to devote a week to each of the fifty-two practices, taking this next year to cultivate the compassion at the heart of this book.
– Gordon Peerman, D.Min., author of Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Suffering

Most people want to be happier, healthier, less stressed and more self-accepting, but it’s often hard to find time to work toward these goals.  The brilliance of this book is that it gives powerful, targeted practices that can be done easily throughout the day to help people reach their highest potential.
– Kristin Neff, PhD., Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin, author of Self-Compassion

Delightfully clear and practical, this book distills profound insights from ancient wisdom traditions, modern psychology, and cutting-edge neurobiology into simple techniques anyone can use to live a happier, saner, more rewarding life. I felt more awake and alive after reading just a few pages.
– Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School; author, The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems

Rick Hanson brings his compelling perspective—he is both a neuropsychologist and an experienced meditation practitioner —to this pragmatic consideration of wisdom practices. Down to earth and inspiring, Just One Thing is a companionable guidebook for inner travelers on a path of transformation, written by one who knows the territory well.
– Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Lovingkindness

The word that comes to mind reading this gently wise book is kindness. Rick Hanson has a kindness that pervades the pages as well as a grounding in science and spirituality that is rare. Peace and subtle change can arrive for you as you read and put into practice the compassionate and simple but powerful ideas and practices contained in Just One Thing.
– Bill O’Hanlon, featured Oprah guest and author of Do One Thing Different

Is it improper to be begged by someone you don’t know to buy a book? Then call me improper because I am begging you to give yourself the miracle of Rick Hanson’s grounded science and earthy spirituality. Keep this book close by while giving copies to everyone you love.
– Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and The Life Organizer 

Rick Hanson has done the work of us—distilling decades of self-inquiry and key psychological research into 52 essential skills for healthy, happy living. This deceptively simple book is a trustworthy guide to living our lives more deeply and fully.  Read, practice, and your brain will surely return the favor.
– Christopher K. Germer, PhD, author, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Clinical Instructor, Harvard Medical School

Just One Thing is full of simple, down-to-earth steps you can take to experience greater happiness and love in your life. Based in brain science but written beautifully from the heart, this book is a gem.
– Marci Shimoff, author of Happy for No Reason

What a way to go through life! Simple yet profound practices that train the brain, open the heart and enhance well-being. Rick Hanson provides the map. If you follow it, you’ll surely increase your happiness and awaken your joy!
– James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy: Ten Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness

All of these tiny “prescriptions,” each one wrapped around a nugget of wisdom, make a happy life seem feasible and within easy reach.
– Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., author of Happiness Is An Inside  Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life

Just One Thing is a very wise, sincere, and heartfelt offering to living well. Rick Hanson skillfully guides you through 52 accessible and down to earth practices that can transform your outlook in life and health.
– Bob Stahl, Ph.D., co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook and Living With Your Heart Wide open: How Mindfulness Can Free You from Unworthiness, Inadequacy, and Shame

This gem of a book is the perfect follow-up to Rick Hanson’s brilliant Buddha’s Brain. In Just One Thing, we are offered dozens of easy-to-learn practices that slowly work their magic on our brains, making it possible for all of us to dwell in the peaceful contentment of a buddha. Just One Thing is one of those rare books that becomes a lifelong companion—never far out of reach.
– Toni Bernhard, author of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers

With Just One Thing, Rick Hanson has written a superb book that takes on the huge challenge of trying to live well and makes it doable by offering a sensible “divide and conquer” approach. Each of the 52 chapters defines a clear target and, utilizing Hanson’s  excellent and practical methods, encourages a gentle and regular practice of focus that fosters the gradual evolution of frames of mind and skills that can truly make a difference.  Hanson’s  ability to inspire the reader  with powerful  insights, enlightening research findings, compassion, and a mindful clarity of purpose make this one of those uncommon books I will enthusiastically recommend to those who want to take their quality of life to a higher level.
– Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and author of Mindfulness and Hypnosis and Depression is Contagious

This book provides finely chiseled stepping stones on the path to lasting well-being and fulfillment. Rick Hanson has honed them with his unique, trustworthy blend of wisdom, clarity, and great love.
– Raphael Cushnir, author of The One Thing Holding You Back: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Connection

An “owner’s manual for the brain” written in the simple intuitive language our brains understand — short, pithy, easily-digestible nuggets that you can feel and remember. Extrapolating from neuroscience, skillfully sychronizing it with the insights of psychology, and dharma, Rick did the practice of describing his practice here, and it shines through every page — sane, helpful, deeply reassuring, and yet strong, clear, and penetrating — a helpful guide you can trust.
– Terry Patten, author of  Integral Life Practice

Just One Thing is just the thing for people who have full lives, and can sometimes find only brief interludes for reflection and self-improvement. But don’t be fooled: these bite-size chapters hold scientific insight, practical tools, and simple, direct, profound wisdom that will nourish your brain and your being as you navigate through daily life.
– Cassandra Vieten, PhD is director of research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and author of Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life and Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year.

Just One Thing is a brilliant, concise, and wise recipe book for people who want to live with greater ease, joy, and skill. It clarifies the five foundations of living a great life and provides powerful practices to help people live more fully. While the form in which Just One Thing is written may appear simple, the messages are deep, profound, and useful. I highly recommend this book to anyone who dreams of thriving.
– Daniel Ellenberg, Ph.D., President, Relationships That Work

Rick Hanson speaks from experience. He offers us simple, accessible and fun insights and exercises that have real psychological benefits and practical value for a better life.”
– Elisha Goldstein, PhD, author of The Now Effect and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook

Anyone who thinks neuroscience is for the erudite will be pleasantly surprised by Rick Hanson’s new book. Just One Thing has many, many things in store for readers, especially those interested in maximizing their brain potential, and in fact their life potential in general. Hanson not only presents a vast array of tried-and-true wisdom, but spells out how each principle can be applied day by day, and backs everything up with scientific understanding.
– Stan Tatkin, Psy.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine. Author of Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain Can Help You Defuse Conflicts And Spark Intimacy

Just One Thing is just about everything you could want from a self-help book! It offers fascinating bits of information from recent neuroscience about our brain and nervous systems, along with simple exercises that can help us overcome our inherited programming. Just One Thing is a singular gift to us all!
– Wes Nisker, Buddhist meditation teacher, author, performer


Table of Contents

Take in the Good

Take Pleasure

Find Strength

Be Curious

Notice You're Alright Right Now

Just One Thing is available in paperback, audiobook (CD or download), and numerous eBook formats, including Kindle, iBook, Nook, Google Play, and Books a Million.


Digital audiobook formats

Audiobook CD formats

Digital/ebook formats

Want to find an Independent Bookstore? Search here.

Bulk Orders


International Retailers

Just One Thing is available internationally in paperback, audiobook (CD or download), and numerous eBook formats, including Kindle, iBook, Nook, Google Play, and Books a Million.

Amazon Canada Click the version you want to be directed to the purchase page on Amazon.ca

Amazon UK Click the version you want to be directed to the purchase page on Amazon.co.uk

Booktopia Australia

Digital/ebook formats


Just One Thing in Chinese
(Simplified Chinese characters)
Beijing Zhengqing Culture and Art Co. Ltd., Beijing

Just One Thing in Chinese
(Traditional Chinese characters)
Faces Publications, a division of Cite Publishing Ltd., Taipei, Taiwan

Just One Thing in Dutch
Uitgeverij Ten Have, Netherlands

Just One Thing in English 
New Harbinger, California, USA

Just One Thing in Finnish
Basam Books Oy, Helsinki, Finland

Just One Thing in French
Les Arenes, Paris, France

Just One Thing in German
Arbor Verlag, Germany

Just One Thing in Italian
Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale, Italy

Just One Thing in Japanese
Samgha Publishing Co., LTD, Sendai, Japan

Just One Thing in Korean
Yoldaerim Publishing Co., Korea

Just One Thing in Polish
Studio Astropsychologii, Poland

Just One Thing in Russian
Prime Evroznak, Russia

Just One Thing in Spanish
Editorial Sirio, Spain
Visit the Spanish version book page

Just One Thing in Thai
Amarin Printing and Publishing Public Company Ltd., Taling Chan, Thailand

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