Did you know that we have about 50,000 thoughts on a daily basis and around 80% of those thoughts are negative, according to research conducted by the National Science Foundation?
This happens because of the way that our brains are wired. From prehistoric times, when we were cave people, our brains would focus on threats and dangers, such as a lion hiding in the bushes or a bird flying out of the sky to eat our food. We programmed ourselves to look out for the negative to be able to ensure the safety of us and those around us.
We no longer have lions waiting in the bushes to attack us, yet our brains are still programmed to focus on things that can possibly cause us harm. The main problem is that in the world we live in now instead of tigers and birds we have deadlines, and people who cut the queue or bump into us while looking at
their phones. All of these are annoying but definitely not life-threatening.
When we get home and our partner asks about our day a lot of the time it’s about everything that went wrong: that annoying co-worker who won’t shut up, that you spilled your coffee over your new white shirt, and how the waiter got your order wrong at lunch. We do this despite positive events happening even more frequently than negative ones.
It’s like we have a pair of glasses that make us blind to the good things that happen around us. From small things like enjoying your morning coffee and the sun shining on your face to the bigger things like being healthy, a good review at work, and having friends and family you love surround you.
If you do a presentation at work and most of your co-workers come up to you afterward to tell you what a great job you did. Yet, there is one person that mentions something you did wrong. The chances are you focus on the one “bad” review. That’s the glasses in action making you blind to all the
This also translates into our personal relationships where we tend to focus on what are partners get wrong or are mistaken instead of bringing up all the things they do right.
The good news is the brain can be reprogrammed to focus on the positive at work and in our personal lives. It all starts with creating awareness of ourselves and those around us.
Begin with paying attention and catching yourself when you notice you are focusing on the negative. Once you start, you can then replace the negative thought with a positive one.
Let’s say you are at home and you notice your partner hasn’t washed the dishes. They did go to the grocery store and restocked the fridge and remember to get those snacks they love. Instead of nagging about the dishes give thanks for what they did well.
Take off the negativity glasses and look around at all the positive things going on around you. Reprogram your brain and you’ll notice the more you focus on the positive, the more your brain will look for even more positives because not only is it rewarding but it also decreases stress and improves your mood.
Psychologist and Emotional Intelligence Coach