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Calm in the Chaos

Working with Our Negativity Bias


The negativity bias can make us focus more on the negative than the positive. But we can change it, and make our lives happier, by embracing reality and working with it. Here's one day that I did it.
Negativity Bias

by Jamie Spannhake

July 23, 2019


Calm in the Chaos

Working with Our Negativity Bias


The negativity bias can make us focus more on the negative than the positive. But we can change it, and make our lives happier, by embracing reality and working with it. Here's one day that I did it.

by Jamie Spannhake

July 23, 2019


Negativity Bias

I have an eight-year-old daughter. While she is quite joyful, she, like many people, is also has a “glass half empty” person sometimes. She could play 8 hours all day with her friends having the best time EVER, yet when it’s time to go home, she forgets all of it and it’s suddenly to worst day of her life!

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SAI’m helping her learn to focus on the good, to shift her perspective. I have experience with this shift because I had to learn it myself. I was telling her about the "negativity bias" the other day as we were working through some disappointments. The negativity bias is the psychological phenomenon by which humans give more weight to and remember more about negative experiences than positive ones. Apparently, this is evolutionary, handed down from our cave-dwelling ancestors when alertness to danger was a matter of life and death. But it's not so necessary today, and it can make life quite unpleasant.

 

I tell my daughter that her life will be much better, more enjoyable, and much less difficult if she can learn to switch her perspective. I had to listen to my own advice the yesterday. It rained yesterday, for a total of about 30 minutes. That was all the rain for the entire day. I went for a run during that 30 minutes. My 23 minute run was smack dab in the middle of the 30 minutes of rain.

So I DECIDED to look at it from a positive perspective. I could have complained. I could have decided not to run. But instead, I said: this is the reality. And I can do this even though this is not the reality I thought I wanted. So I ran in the pouring rain. And it was lovely. Seriously. It has been so hot and humid. The rain was like a cool shower for my entire run. Who knew I would enjoy running in the rain so much! 

I learned something by embracing reality. I experienced something new and I enjoyed it. It was a little thing, but if I can take this knowledge with me when I face a bigger and more serious challenge, I might have a bigger positive experience and learn something even bigger!

I hope you will try it too!

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