Have you ever noticed how easy is it to have negative thoughts instead of positive thoughts? Or to believe criticisms more than compliments? A theory called negativity bias says humans give more psychological weight to bad experiences than to positive ones, so we tend to
- Remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones
- Recall insults better than praise
- React more strongly to negative stimuli
- Think about negative things more frequently than positive ones
- Respond more strongly to negative events than to equally positive ones (Cherry, K. 2019).
Negativity appears to be hardwired in our brains as a result of evolution. Anticipating danger or negative threats is what has kept our species alive. We are ancestors of frightened people!
Many of us struggle with being positive or optimistic. But what if we can flip negativity on its head? Turns out there is evidence we can! One word has a positive impact on our well-being: GRATITUDE.
A major research study showed a practice of gratitude can result in:
- Higher levels of life satisfaction and more optimism and vitality about life.
- Better progress toward personal goals and goal attainment.
- Reduced levels of stress and depressed mood.
- Better sleep duration and sleep quality
- More prosocial behavior, such as helping and providing emotional support to others. (Altman, D, 2019).
Starting a practice of gratitude is not difficult. The following examples are ideas to incorporate more gratitude in your life:
- Notice and name one gratitude right now.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Every night write down 3 things for which you are grateful.
- Get closer to the ground and look for the things you used to notice when you were a kid, for instance, four leaf clovers, caterpillars, or a tiny flower.
- Do something that makes you happy.
- Be present in the moment, using your 5 senses.
- Be grateful for what you have instead of what you want.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar
The Single Word that Stops Negative Self-Talk Altman, D. 13 August 2019.
What is the Negativity Bias? Cherry, K. 13 August 2019.
Love yourself, you deserve it!