Your Wired for Negative Bias

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I am lucky enough to have worked for over 8 years in a space that has helped me begin with positive intent with any approach that I attempt. It’s not easy. I recently read a fascinating piece on your brain’s negative bias.

There happens to be a scientific reason we are so quick at picking up on negativity when we see, hear, or receive it. Our brains in an effort to protect us is constantly looking for potential threats. Through our evolution we’ve learned to temper that way of looking at things because we no longer live in caves.

This explains why it’s so much easier in our work lives and personal lives to see the worst in people before we see the best in people. We continually look for ways to make people better, because we see them flawed or see them not at their fullest potential. Even when we feel bad in doing so, it’s easier for us to tell someone where they failed then to tell them specifically where they succeed.

I’ve stated in many posts though, this isn’t something we have to feel defeated about never being able to change. With time, focus, and reflection you can change your first reaction to be focused on the positive versus the negative.

We have two choices: continuously blame everything for what we feel like or take action for our reactions. WE can BE intentional in changing our emotional climate.

One of the easiest ways for us to get started is to begin with positive thoughts when we start our day and end our day. I’ve shared before just taking 5 minutes to reflect at the start and end of our days on what we have gratitude for can go a long way in changing our emotional climates. I do this with some assistance with the 5 Minute Journal everyday. The more we practice this habit of thankfulness your brain will adapt to start looking for things your thankful for through out the day. As you continue with the habit it won’t be something you feel two times a day, but something you will feel through out the day.

Here’s a few more ways we can cultivate our positive states over our hard wired negative states:

  • Focus in your work and personal lives on a feeling of appreciation for what you have around you through out your busy day. Write them down. Even just a word can be a trigger for more positivity to take root.
  • Breath. I continually practice regular states of 1-5 minutes a day where I just pause and breath. Especially when stressed. You don’t need technology or an app to do it. Just leave the situation, find a spot, and breath. Count 10 breaths slowly, then get back to it. You’ll find yourself more relaxed and open.
  • Recall your successes. Personal and work successes are great predictors of future success. When struggling against the “I can’t do this…” feeling, remembering the positives of reaching a goal similar in scope can center you again.
  • Recreate a feeling of calm or ease. I love building fire pits. That warmth and feeling I get when I stretch my hands over a freshly started fire is so calming.

The biggest thing above in those ideas is creating a state where you actually FEEL those positives. The brain loves to get you into those states of ease and calm. That’s why it’s always scanning for threats. It actively looks for threats and wants you to return to a state of calm.

The simplest thing you can start with begin your day happy by regularly practicing gratitude. Help your brain focus on the good and not the negative bias our evolution has hard wired it to. Put yourself intentionally in front of higher levels of positivity, joy, and optimism.

I’ll leave you with this…have a great week!

Promise me you’ll live a remarkable life, one where everyday is as intentional as can be, a life soaked in attentiveness to your whole being. – Tapiwa Mugabe

✌ Shawn

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