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Let the Good Stuff Soak In

Picture the scene….you’ve come up with a great idea on how to streamline and improve a process at work. It is genius, you are really pleased with yourself and so you decide to share your ideas with a few people. The first 6 people you speak to agree with you, they love it, and then…..you speak to No.7….


They don’t love it, in fact all they do is pick holes in it and tell you all the ways that they could improve on your idea. How do you feel now? It’s likely that the comments and enthusiasm that the first 6 people shared with you have now been completely overruled by No.7. All you can see and hear are the negative comments. You feel deflated, hurt, annoyed and your mind is on overdrive analysing what was said, frustrated at all of the time you put into it which now seems wasted. In short, all of your attention and mind space is taken up with that one negative experience.


What is going on there then?negativity bias


Well, it is part of our genetic make-up that we have a bias towards prioritising negative experiences over positive ones. Why? Because that is how we have managed to survive as a species as long as we have. Imagine if No.7 was in fact a sabre toothed tiger and his response was actually a warning to us that he is bigger and stronger and has sharper teeth than us, we would be quite right to focus our attention on him over the others.


However, it is unlikely that No.7 is a sabre toothed tiger and is in fact a colleague who just happens to a have different point of view to you.


What about the other 6 people who loved your new ideas? Why are you not focusing your attention on what they said and continuing to feel good about yourself? Well, it’s like when you go to a restaurant a few times and each time it is great then one time to go and you have a terrible experience. Which do you remember and which do you tell people about? Chances are most of your focus lands on the one bad experience.


So, how do you overcome this inbuilt negativity bias which takes up a disproportionately large amount of space in your mind? You need to “accentuate the positive” (I think there’s a song in there!). You literally need to focus more attention on the positive so that you can clear out the negative.


There is a fantastic guy called Rick Hanson who is a neuro-psychologist and he has written lots of books and papers on this subject. He says if we invest as much time in really taking in the positive experiences we actually rewire our brain and begin to combat this negativity bias.


Your mission then, is to notice when you are getting fixated on the one bad thing that has happened or the one negative comment someone makes and turn your attention to all of the good things and amazing comments. Indulge yourself. Really focus on that good stuff. Enjoy it! Let it soak in.


In the future, you’ll find yourself getting less stuck on the negative which opens up more space for you to really experience all the positives that are going on around you.


Before you go off and try that…..please leave a comment below and click on one (or more) of the share buttons below.  Thank you!

Liked this?  Why not take a look at my video blog on the same subject – “Training Your Mind for Success – The Value of White Space”

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