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Soulful Sundays: Negativity Bias

The little things add up (especially the negative little things), and, I mean in a big way. Research has shown our brains to be at least two times more biased towards remembering negative events and thoughts than positive ones.

Evolutionarily, this makes sense. If you didn't remember where the predators like to hide, or which plants were poisonous, then you didn't live to pass on your genes. If you simply forgot where the good berries grow, then you were just out one meal. Therefore, the evolving human brain learned to assign more value to negative events and information. Now take this into the modern brain and the modern world. We still have the same brain, except this time the negative red-flags are smaller, more abstract, and seemingly of less consequence. While this seems like progress (at least we aren't at risk of getting eaten every day), the little negativities add up if left unchecked. Think of the quintessential American who may be worried about paying off credit card, house and car debts, while fielding negative comments from co-workers and family members, all the while navigating the toxic media channels out there. It can be a little overwhelming, and. if we don't bolster ourselves appropriately, we might enter some serious negativity spirals. This is why I encourage and practice positive reinforcement to buffer our biological pessimism. For every negative thought, I try to buoy it with three positive ones. This may sound laborious, but it is actually quite easy and enjoyable once you put it into practice. An easy way to start is to begin each morning by verbalizing or writing out three things you are grateful for. They don't have to be herculean each time. Keep it simple. "I'm glad for the air I'm breathing in this room, I'm grateful for gravity, I'm grateful for bedsheets or food or email communication..." The possibilities are endless. How do you all stay positive? Does anyone feel as I do about the power and imperative of positive thinking?

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