In a recent discussion with friends, the term "Negativity Bias"was brought up. Our friend explained that this is an innate instinct in all of us thanks to our ancestors who fought tigers and bears as part of their daily survival. When they had a bountiful hunt, they would not rejoice fully, for fear that another predator would be lurking around the corner. They would eat with spear in hand ready to attack...
Today we have umbrellas instead of spears. As pictured above, whether the forecast calls for rain or not, they are prepared to use it, even it is not raining. Four out the five pictured are not aware that it is a beautiful clear day...
Negativity bias is waiting for the "other shoe to drop"! We know as a result of that implanted stimulus/response that it is going to drop sooner than later...And given that we expect that to happen it usually does. That bias of fixed idea is not allowing good things to happen with great regularity. And as result we meet up with problems, just as we predicted, because we are already predisposed to it happening.
Studies with 7 months old babies have revealed that they experience negativity bias by emotional contagion from those around them. They feel the negative energy that is expressed around them day and day out. Unlike us, they cannot leave to get away!
As we have evolved from cavemen and cavewomen, we still are more likely to focus on negativity than on positivity. An accident on the freeway causes a parking lot situation, because everyone wants to rubberneck the scene. Trauma and drama becomes a focus, so much so that we bring it into our lives on a daily basis. Just by turning on the news, you can have your fill of negativity.
Here is our formula:
1. Practice mindfulness. This is not a new concept, even Lao Tzu, spoke of it. I like this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh.
“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes”
2. Count your blessings on a daily basis. Be grateful, thankful for all the bounty that surrounds you, and the quote we both love is by Sam Harris,
“There are at least a billion people on Earth at this moment who would consider their prayers answered if they could trade places with you."
3. Revel, celebrate the good times, appreciate the people around you and let them know that you appreciate them. In the words of Alan Cohen,
"Don't postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson."
Last but not least, get on a diet of laughter. Alan Watts said it well,
"Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself."
Perhaps, it is time to shed the negativity bias, and walk in the sunshine between the showers!