Training Your Focus
We all have a negativity bias that causes us to see what’s wrong faster and more frequently than what is right.
This bias operates at the preconscious level. We don’t even know it is happening but we can surely take a quick look at our past and perhaps current experiences to see it rearing its ugly head.
We have all had days where everything seemed to go great except for one incident that we can’t stop thinking about. If left to our negativity bias, this one incident can cast such a dark shadow that we no longer even see the positives. These are days like when you wake up in a good mood, the weather is perfect, you get a great grade on a test, hit every green light, enjoy time with friends but you don’t get the grade you wanted on a paper you worked hard on and it is all you can think of. Soon, you are an idiot or the teacher is a complete jerk and your day or perhaps longer is ruined.
The really bad news with the negativity bias is that when you continue to focus on what is going wrong, you end up programming your brain to keep seeing bad and actually begin to seek out more and more negatives.
THANKFULLY, many studies have confirmed there are practices that help us see more positives and in turn, increase our levels of happiness. This is good news because according to Sean Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, your brain at positive is 31% more productive than at negative, neutral, or stressed.
So what are these practices?? The top five are:
Journaling About Positive Experiences
Meditating to a Guided Loving Kindness Meditation
Performing Random Acts of Kindness
Regular Exercise (This practice alone can be as effective as an anti-depressant)
If you are someone that struggles with mental health issues, you might be thinking that none of these can help you. And, believe it or not, researchers have questioned it but have found these practices can help everyone.
If this has got you wanting to learn more, here are a few links to check out:
https://www.heysigmund.com/why-what-you-focus-on-is-what-becomes-powerful-why-your-thoughts-and-feelings-matter/ – This article gives you a deeper understanding regarding why what we focus on matters. And, if you follow the link back to the Hey Sigmund website and look around, you will find that Karen Young has all kinds of wonderful things to share to help you live a better and happier life.
How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (berkeley.edu) – A review of a study conducted with 300 college students that struggle with mental health issues.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-JrUmxHzq4 – A five-minute Loving Kindness meditation by Bodhipaksa of Wildmind (www.wildmind.org). If you like it, he has a 27 minute guided meditation, Developing Loving Kindness, which can be found on Insight Timer. It is one of my favorites!