By the power of your mind you can deliciously focus a good life into existence. Really.
It’s true. We all have a negativity bias. We tend to scan for negative experiences more than for positive ones and focus on them more than on the good stuff around us.
This may have been good for our survival as a species, as we have learned to avoid bad situations that might even lead to our death. However, in today’s society things tend to be more complex, and our negativity bias can get us into trouble.
For instance, although over time the negativity bias improves our survival, it does not necessarily provide the best health and wellbeing. Focusing on the negative we become fearful, stressed, anxious. If it is only for a few seconds, then this is not a problem. But when this becomes a chronic state we greatly affect our health and wellbeing.
Furthermore, what we focus on is what we tend to experience more of in our lives. This means that if we focus on the negative, we will tend to build beliefs about our world that reflect that negative. If we have been lied to and cheated, then we will develop a lack of trust and it may be easy to also develop a belief that people cannot be trusted. With this attitude we will tend to evoke situations where it becomes easier for others to cheat us again.
Imagine a boss at your workplace who sits you down and tells you that they believe in you and want to give more freedom and opportunity for growth. Now imagine a boss who does not look you straight in the eye and always tells stories of how his employees are no good thiefs. Which of these two bosses would you have an easier time cheating?
What we focus on becomes our experience. The more we focus on the negative, the more we will tend to see it and inwardly feel it. This will overtime make us more depressed, grumpy, and bitter. And this is what will tend to happen if we let our negativity bias reign.
But there is something we can do. We also have the ability to learn from positive experiences. However, they do not automatically stick to our mind as the negative ones. We rarely start obsessing about the positive events of our days. But having the ability to choose what to focus on, we can decide to take in the good and marvel in it. By creating a practice where we choose to do this, we will be making it easier and easier for our mind to go there, and even for our brain to wire these connections. This will make it possible for us to enjoy our daily events to a higher degree, to feel satisfied, fulfilled, happier. Over time we will be forging these positive connections in our minds, as opposed to the negative ones.
Positive focus, brings the experience of your cup spilling over, wiring this experience into your brain, affecting your mind from then on.
Here is a video on a two breath practice that you can incorporate into your day in order to offset the negativity bias. It is based on the phrase “There are no ordinary moments”, from the movie “Peaceful Warrior”. Take a look.
If you are interested in more practices that can make you happier, take a look at the book
It contains ten chapters, each outlining a perspective that may lead to more happiness, and each finishing with a specific practice.