Negative and positive experiences are a fact of life. However, our decision to dwell on one over the other is the difference between success and failure. In this blog I will discuss how we, as humans, have an inherent negative outlook on life that keeps us from reaching our potential and ways to overcome this subconscious behavior.
Negative Usually Wins
Ever had a fantastic day in which everything is going your way, only to have it erased when someone cuts you off when driving? Or how about, waking up looking forward to an event you have been planning for weeks (e.g. wedding or vacation), only to have it “ruined” because of the weather or an unforeseen development? Why? Because we, as human beings, are destined to fixate on the negative instead of the positive, which is otherwise known as the negativity bias.
The negativity bias is the subconscious way we give more weight to bad experiences than a good one. In fact, some researchers have found that negative emotions are 3x stronger than positive emotions. According to Psychology Today, the reason humans internalize negative experiences so heavily stems from a very good reason: the need to survive during “fight or flight” situations.
However, the primal instinct to internalize negative experiences to survive must be controlled to realize success in the modern world. One of the major reasons is to allow us to take chances/risks in life, which is essential to breaking free and reaching maximum potential.
Harness the Positive
To succeed, people need to step outside their comfort zone, persevere through the bumps and keep their eye on the prize. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, the way we are wired prevents us from doing this. On average it takes five positive experiences to overtake one negative experience. The trick is to catch ourselves internalizing the negative and shoving the positive to the background. It’s not as hard as you think.
Notice the Good in Others
For most people, it’s hard to practice self-reflection, so start by noticing the good in others.
- Be polite to strangers
- Compliment a colleague
- Say “Thank You” – always!
Do not underestimate the power that making another person smile has on your outlook and actions throughout the day. It is better to give than receive, but rest assured, you must also be good to yourself to be good to others.
Take Care of Yourself
Mind your mind. Sounds hokey, but it is a powerful concept. Our thoughts sabotage our well-being, every day, all day if allowed. Stop the toxic cycle by being self-aware, then take steps to harness the positive in place of the negative.
- Enjoy simple pleasures throughout the day (e.g. take time to eat lunch outside, drink a favorite coffee drink, indulge in a funny book/tv program)
- Think back to the happiest moments in your life, then go to your “happy place” when something bad happens
- When receiving positive feedback/praise for a job well done, save the correspondence as a visual reminder
These techniques are a good start to overcome the negativity bias in all of us. However, there will be times when negative actions and words get the better of us.
To overcome the negative energy unleashed into the universe, adhere to the “5 to 1 Principle”: for every negative action or word, do/say 5 positive things. This will ensure the positive wins and the “Law of Attraction” brings the positive instead of the negative into your life.
Timothy Dimoff Can Help You Overcome the Negativity Bias
Get motivated to be the best you can be with Tim’s presentation What You Need to Know for Personal and Professional Success. Learn what’s missing to get the most out of your career and personal relationships. Contact Tim to schedule today.