Where do the 12 Pillards of Well-Being come from ?
Dr. Rick Hanson, renowned psychologist, New York Times best-selling author, founder of Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, created the 12 Pillars of Well-Being.
This approach is based on the evolution of the human brain which occurred in three stages related to our three fundamental needs. The reptilian brainstem focuses on safety, the mammalian sub-cortex focuses on satisfaction, and the primate/human cortex focuses on connection.
Applying the Four R’s of Well-Being (Recognising, Resourcing, Regulating, and Relating) to our three core needs (Safety, Satisfaction, and Connection) he created the 12 Pillars of Well-Being.
The 12 Pillards at a glance
- Self-Caring: Be on your own side and become more resilient
- Mindfulness: Steady your mind and become more focused
- Learning: Grow beneficial traits and take in the good
- Vitality: Befriend your body and become determined
- Gratitude: Find the beauty and take more pleasure
- Confidence: Let go of shame and satisfy your core needs
- Calm: Learn to cool your anger and become more relaxed
- Motivation: Honour your desires and enjoy the fullness of life
- Intimacy: Get connected and create better relationships
- Courage: Become assertive and rise to challenges
- Aspiration: Deal with fears and realise your dreams
- Service: Resource yourself and become compassionate
The Science behind the Pillards
This approach is based on the methods of positive neuroplasticity and our ability to create positive lasting change in the neural structure and function of our brains. If you are interested in learning more about the science behind these Pillars of Well-Being check out the 2 points :
Using Your Mind to Change Your Brain
Key facts about your brain
• Shaped by evolution, especially of emotional and relational capacities; for example, the bigger the primate social group, the bigger the brain
• 3 pounds, 1.1 trillion cells, including 100 billion “gray matter” neurones
• Always “on” – 2% of the body’s weight uses about 25% of its oxygen
• Average neurone has about 5000 connections (synapses), 500 trillion in all
• Synapses fire 1 to 100 times a second; quadrillions of synapses activate each minute
• Brain regions linked by neural pulses synchronised within a few milliseconds
• Highly interconnected network full of circular loops: awareness of awareness . . .
• Number of possible brain states: 1 followed by a million zeros
• The most complex object known in the universe
Your mind changes your brain
• Both temporarily, in electrochemical waves lasting mere milliseconds, and permanently, as existing synapses get strengthened and new ones get made
• As circuits get used, they strengthen their connections; “neurones that fire together, wire together.” Your experience matters, leaving an enduring trace behind.
• London taxi drivers have thicker regions that create visual-spatial memories.
• Mindfulness and concentration meditations activate different parts of the brain.
Your brain changes your mind
• Brain activity generates mental activity (mostly forever outside awareness).
• Trauma shrinks the hippocampus, which becomes less able to create new memories.
• More active left frontal lobes foster positive emotions.
You can use your mind to change your brain to change your mind for the better. In just one example, EFT & Mindfulness practices:
• Trigger patterns of neural pulsing that produce relaxed alertness
• Activate positive emotion circuits, building resilience and resistance to depression
• Increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that supports mood, sleep, and digestion
• Thicken the anterior cingulate, strengthening attention and self-observation
• Thicken the insula, strengthening internal sensing and empathy for others
• Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) for relaxed well-being
• Strengthen the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, dampen chronic pain
Understanding Neuroplasticity with Rick Hanson
In this video, Rick Hanson explains how we can use our minds to change our brains to change our minds for the better. This video was taken at the Greater Good Science Center in UC Berkeley as part of the Science of a Meaningful Life Series.