Imagine this: You wake up one morning, do a little yoga, sip hot lemon water, read your book, arrange some cut flowers, play with your cat, walk your dog in the park, enjoy a hot shower, get dressed, and drive to work. On your commute, another car cuts in front of you, nearly causing an accident. You’re late to your first meeting. Your laptop konks out just as you’re about to give an important presentation.
When you get home that night, your husband asks, “How was your day, babe?” Do you answer: “Lovely! I had a peaceful morning full of my favorite things.” Or do you say: “Terrible! Some bozo nearly hit me on the highway, I was late to work, and I had to improvise the presentation I’ve been preparing for weeks because my laptop crashed!”
Most days, most of us would say the latter. We tend to focus on the negative parts of our day. And you know what? We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. We’re literally hardwired to see the negative.
Our brains have evolved over many thousands of years to pay close attention to threats, to pain, to anything that might put us in harm’s way. It’s our “fight or flight” survival instinct — and it creates negativity bias in all of us. It’s part of being human.
But there is a way out. Author Tama Kieves shares these “Turning Points” in her book Thriving Through Uncertainty. She counsels us to stop brushing off our happiness. She invites us to make a courageous choice, in every moment, to tilt our brains toward joy.
8 Ways to Escape Negativity Bias
1. It’s time to stop calling negativity “realism.” I have an idea. Let’s just call it negativity.
2. Allow the force of good to work through you and for you.
3. Let go of the stories you’ve been telling yourself about what is possible. Life will always give us the chance to be realized, instead of “realistic.”
4. Don’t ignore, discount, or block the goodness of your life. It would be a travesty to unwittingly create a life that is smaller than your true nature.
5. Be mindful of what you focus on. You can create the life you fear by paying attention only to the stories that reinforce what you do not really want.
6. Take your joy seriously, at least as seriously as your pain.
7. A disappointment doesn’t change the truth or opportunity that comes with a life-changing moment – until you let it. So don’t let it.
8. When good things happen to you, don’t wait for the other shoe to drop. You’re just getting started. You are tapping into who you really are, which is why it feels so good.
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