Those of you who follow me know that I am a believer in a positive state of mind. It’s certainly no surprise to anyone that positive emotions have the power to change lives. We see it all the time – when you share a positive word, an encouraging word, that word has the tendency to cause someone to smile or 'make their day'.
It’s well known now that brain studies show that positive emotions enable us to handle demanding situations more easily, and help us bounce back stronger from challenging situations, no matter the actual outcome. Staying positive helps us see options in solving problems, whereas negative emotions hamper that creativity.
I learned that, as humans, we experience something called the negativity bias. This is our natural tendency to give more attention to the negative emotions we experience than the positive emotions. Don’t you know people like that? Unfortunately, it is more people than not, as it is human nature to be negative first. It is work to begin to live a positive lifestyle.
Some scientists take the viewpoint that negative emotions generally point out a problem that needs to be fixed or figured out. So, this leads them to conclude that negative emotions are the best thing to experience. They state that the negative emotions surface to help us survive difficult and often life-threatening situations. I’m not sure I’m convinced of that; however, that is a positive side to negative emotions.
But even though these negative emotions are natural, the negativity bias can impede our ability to let go of the negative thoughts that go along with the emotions. So, like a domino effect, a bad moment turns into a bad day; a small frustration turns into full-blown anger. That is why it is so important to develop the ability to call up positive emotions to help balance, and hopefully outweigh the negative ones.
So, what can you do? Practice, practice, practice! The most important thing you can do to enable your positive emotions is to practice them. That’s right - practice being positive! It’s okay to have the negative emotion or thought. Acknowledge it, then turn it around into something positive. I can’t express here how important this is for your sanity and well-being. Turn around the negative thought, that negative emotion. You must accept that every situation has a silver lining if you look hard enough. Once you start with the positive, you will be amazed at how much better you will begin to feel.
By consistently practicing this simple switch-around when you have a negative thought, you are training your brain to habituate to positive thinking and positive emotions, thereby balancing the negativity bias – or better yet, getting rid of it altogether! You’ll notice that this is difficult to do at first but it can be done. The very first step is identifying the negative emotions. Once you identify them, you can acknowledge them . And once you can identify and acknowledge them, you can then turn away from them and change each around into a positive thought or expression. It’s just that simple.
Like most skills, this will get easier as time goes on, as you practice consistently. A good tip to help is to post positive sayings around your house, in your car or as a screensaver on your phone or computer. Find positive, motivating scriptures and sayings that you can memorize. Soon, you will naturally begin to experience more positive thoughts and emotions throughout your day, without having to identify and turn around a negative emotion to make that happen! This is because our brain is magnificently made and once it has learned a new, positive way of doing things it will quickly adapt. Then, the result is great feedback in the form of good, healthy thoughts which produce happiness, joy, love, and peace!
So, come on, give it a try! Start saying that glass is ‘half full’ rather than ‘half empty’. All it takes is a shift in your thinking and I know you can do it – I believe in you!