In a world of go-go-go, it’s easy to get lost. You zip and zoom through your day, and at the end, it's your mistakes and disappointments that stick with you. It’s difficult to stay positive when your mind is experiencing the world through a negativity bias.
It turns out humans are pre-wired to go to the dark side. This “glass half empty” mentality is actually a genetic aid that helped our ancestors remember not to eat from the poison berry bush. So now you’ll recognize the bush that caused Grodd’s horrible death more than you’ll recall the 1,000 nice things that happened this week.
This mindset translates to a negativity bias that gives less-than-stellar moments more weight than positive ones. Once activated, it begins to color everything you experience.
But there is good news. The brain is plastic. And just like you can build a negativity bias, you can also cultivate a positivity bias.
How to avoid negativity bias and create positivity in your life:
Take a breath.
The first step in slowing negative momentum is slowing down the train. A pause in action can lead to mindful reflection. So when things get stressful, take a breath. Take two. Walk away, take a nap or meditate to clear the air and start with a new vibrational frequency.
Change your language.
If you go around claiming something, you CLAIM it. You make it yours. The more you talk about something, the more concrete it becomes. Your neurons fire in ways that make that belief solid and it becomes your truth. Too often people shout about what they don't want or what is wrong in their lives, not realizing that it’s cementing that reality for them.
Flip that process on its head and start talking about what you do want. Take time to speak about the good things in your life. Big or small, share it with anyone who’ll listen. Practice in the mirror and surround yourself with others who reflect the positivity you want to see in your life.
Take time each day to cultivate a gratitude practice. What does gratitude mean? It means thinking about what’s going well in your life or – at the very least – what hasn’t gone wrong. Keep a positivity notebook or file on your phone to record three good things each day. Feel free to add more but don’t feel pressured.
And since gratitude and health go hand-in-hand, save your practice for bedtime to reap the benefits of a calmer mind. You’ll quickly realize that gratitude is catchy, so expect to see through a positive lens more often.
Open your eyes to expand your thoughts.
There are glimmers of good in everyone’s day. But if you aren’t looking out for them, they’re easy to miss. Start keeping your eyes open for pleasant moments, fun exchanges, compliments and connections. Pay attention to the feelings and allow them to build for 15 seconds. Acknowledge them. Give them a chance to register. Tell yourself, “this is good; thank you!”
Connect with mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool that lets you stop what you’re doing and look at it objectively. By connecting to what’s going on in the moment, you’ll be able to observe it, feel it and reflect on it.
This self-observation without judgment also disputes preconceived ideas and helps you get in touch with what’s real. To do this, ask yourself these three questions.
What is true? – This lets you look objectively at your interpretation of events. Consider what you know for certain. It’s often different than any drawn conclusions.
What is good? – This will remind you that every situation has bright spots and things you can learn. Mine those nuggets.
What is possible? – This asks where things can go from here. If you’re going to imagine the worst, you might as well spend time imagining the best. Allow yourself to play with possibilities.
Be the good you want to see.
Helping another person makes you feel good. When you look for ways to make things better for someone else, life will start to get better for you, too. Remember: kindness always ripples.
Let it all add up.
Positivity builds like drops in a bucket. You might not notice at first, but consistently practicing gratitude, kindness and mindfulness is how you create positivity in your life. You’ll be more in tune with the good and better able to process life’s difficulties. While training your brain to see the positives may be a long process, it’s absolutely worth it! Just let it come.