“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson
We lean towards the negative. It’s the reason negative political campaigns consistently outperform positive ones. It’s the reason you forget the 10 compliments you received on that new outfit, and focus on the one jab from a coworker. It’s why negative news sells. And all for good reason.
GRANDMA, GRANDPA AND BEYOND
Our ancestors survived because of this negativity bias. Incoming information involving something relatively pleasant like finding a berry bush and at the same time spotting an approaching lion, had two very different consequences. Humans of old discerned that it was more important to remember that which may immediately injure or kill them, versus that which may provide some temporary sustenance or satisfaction.
IT’S ALWAYS DEBORAH
The problem is, here we are in the 21st century, leading lives of relative safety and comfort and yet, we have not fully evolved from that primitive man. Deborah in accounting isn’t going to gut us in an open field and have us for lunch…at least we hope not…yet our reactions to her can be identical to that of the approaching lion, and just as hard to shake.
Neuroscience has determined that negative experiences are immediately accepted by our brains, while positive experiences take far longer, up to 12 seconds, to register. This is why the 10 compliments you received about your work, or your last proposal, or your outfit just get shrugged off or deflected…while you sit and stew about the one negative reaction.
The reality is there are a TON of great things that happen to us every day. We just don’t take time to let them register. When would now be a good time to change that?
IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING
First, take some time each day to notice every moment that went right. They are there…promise. Take a moment and work backwards through your day, even the bad ones, and note all the good things that happened.
Then, take the top 4 or 5 from your list and take some more time (12 seconds or more sound good?) to really sit with them, relive them, relish in them. Form the pathway in your brain for more positive memories to take hold.
That’s it. What’s the worst that could happen from this exercise? Try it on and see if it works for you. Willie would…
See you on the journey…
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