I pride myself on being a curator of positive content both online and off. It is for this reason that I like to share and promote other people, brands and organizations that are doing the same.
Let's face it, the world seems pretty hell bent on shouting out the negative and only whispering the positive. With the intrusion of social media and internet, this type of negativity becomes easier to spread and it spreads fast. So how do we keep our head up and see all of the amazing things that are happening around us. Because I am here to tell you,
"THEY ARE HAPPENING!"
So why do we shout negativity so loud? My original assumption is that we are hardwired to be negative. And guess what? It is true. During my research I discovered something that researchers call the "negative bias". Turns out we are hardwired for negativity. Our brains actually respond to negative situations as much as three times more than positive situations. A lot of it had to do with the fact that we had to respond to negative stimuli in a quicker way in order to stay alive. It was the ability to respond to negativity that kept our ancestors positively alive. So if we have evolved in other areas why not in this one?
I could not find a specific answer to this in my research but in reading how to tackle it I think the answer is related to the fact that we respond to the negative bias instead of trying to correct for it. We accept negativity in our lives and don't demand something more productive. We glorify being busy, dismissive, aloof and sarcasm, all of which actually begat negativity, Why do we think this is so cool?
The other thing that isn't working in our favor is the fact that we think everything is equal, that we respond to emotions the same but we don't. As I mentioned it takes 3x the amount of positivity to impact us. So how do we keep the negative out and invite the positive in?
Research gives a few options that I am going to simplify for us all.
Pay attention to positive things. Did you read a feel good story on your Facebook feed? Did you just read the first paragraph or did you read the whole story?
We can register negativity right away, which makes sense because feeling bad sucks. With positive emotions/events it takes 5-20 seconds. You know all those diets that tell you to savor your food by chewing each bite multiple times to make the flavor linger and slow down your eating, which in turn allows your brain to get the message of fullness? This is the same concept. Let positive things linger in your life.
Seek out positivity. Too often than not we turn on the news, radio, or read online about all of the tragedies in the world. I am not saying we should ignore what is happening around us but the problem is we don't balance the coverage. Not only do we not give equal time to the negative and the positive, we actually give so little time to positive forces that we have an even bigger hill to climb to feel positive emotions. So watch a video of a baby or kid laughing and hit repeat. There really is no better sound in the world. Don't believe me?
Lastly, be still. You read that right. Be still, and give your brain time to appreciate all that is happening around you. There are so many beautiful things that happen to us every single day but we are rushing through our lives focused on the things we have to fix instead of things we should be enjoying. Many suggest things like gratitude journals to help create this focus.
I am sure there are other ways to combat negativity from other researchers. In the end though I think it is really simple. We have to work to create and accept positivity. Before you let that bum you out and go negative. Take it in, because the research actually proves that working at it works. Watch this amazing Ted Talk called The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance which explains how you can re-wire your brain to be more positive.
At the end, the speakers offers up a 21 day challenge. 21 days is nothing. I'm putting it in the universe right now. Let's do it together. Tell me in the comments below if you are in and let's spread the positivity around.