Our brain has been hardwired to gravitate towards the negative to create mechanisms that can help us avoid dangerous situations and stay safe. Zooming on the negative might have been very helpful in cavemen time, but nowadays we do not need to continuously focus on the negative to survive. There is no sabertooth around the corner waiting to have us for lunch. However, we continue ruminating on all the different ways in which one same situation can go wrong. This thought process paralyzes us from taking action and engage in opportunities that can help us step out of our comfort zone and grow. This is what is know as Negativity Bias.
On the contrary, research has proven that by cultivating a positive mindset we can experience great benefits in our physical and mental health. That is why, every day, we want to intentionally focus on the actions we can take to help us conquer this Negativity Bias and begin uncovering the positive side that every situation has to offer.
Here are 3 strategies to help you practice “Purposeful Positivity”:
- Catch yourself falling into the Negativity Bias trap: When you notice yourself experiencing thoughts and feelings about how something can of wrong, step back and ask yourself:
- “What are the facts I have to prove these thoughts are right?”
- “Could there be another possibility?”
- “Is it true that every time I have been in a situation like this everything went wrong?”
- “What would be the worst, best and most likely scenario of participating in this event or performing this task?”
- Find time for daily appreciation and gratitude: Developing a practice of gratitude can help this muscle grow and help you discover the positive in various situations.
- Notice what others around you do for you everyday and let them know you are grateful for what they did. Be specific and genuine with your praise.
- Use a gratitude journal where you can write down the events, people and things you are grateful for.
- Create rituals, such as going around the table at dinner time, to let others know what you are grateful for and how and why you appreciate each other.
- Take time to savour the small things in life such as a nice meal, a relaxing walk, or a conversation with a friend.
- Extract the positive out of the negative: When things don’t go the way you planned, begin honoring any feeling of disappointment or frustration and then, step back and ask yourself:
- “What did I learn about this situation?”
- “What can I do differently next time?”
- “What was under my control and what was not?”
- “Is the result of this situation a true reflection of who I am?”
- “What would I tell my best friend if they were going through this situation?”
- “How can I show self-compassion to myself in this moment?”
So here is my challenge: What small action can you practice today to uncover something positive in your day? By implementing this simple practice in your daily life, your general mood, well-being and connection with others can continue to improve.