Ok, I think it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyways...2020 has been WILD. We could’ve never known when the clock struck midnight on January 1st all that was in store for us this year, as individuals and as a collective. HOLY CRAP. And ya, there was a lot of crap to say the least. So being a proper nature lover, I’m going to suggest we turn this big ol’ pile of 2020 dung into some pure gold compost to plant new seeds for the year to come. Does that sound as good to you and it does to me? Phewf, glad I’m not alone because I’ve felt alone enough this year, ya know?
Let’s do this…
But first I want to say- I FEEL YOU MY FRIEND. This year has been nothing but easy, and my heart goes out to you for whatever hardship you’ve been through or are still faced with. Whether it be the loss of a job, or heaven forbid the loss of a loved one, your business closing down, family struggles, isolation from friends, anxiety, depression, health challenges, or an existential crisis brought on by the world as we know it completely changing… I’m with you. Whatever it is that you’ve been dealing with, I know it has been TOUGH and this article is in no way trying to minimize any of it. So please know that as we move forward.
Ok, back to the gold digging…
Call me an optimist, but I adhere to the life principle that there’s always a blessing hidden in the hardship, as difficult as it is to see sometimes. And it can be VERY HARD to see sometimes! Not because of some innate fault of our personality, but an actual scientifically studied phenomenon called negativity bias.
What Is Negativity Bias, You Ask?
The Brain’s Negativity Bias is the evolutionary tendency of the brain to give more weight to negative emotions, news and information than positive (1). We’re literally wired to pay more attention to negative experiences. Why is this? Well, back in the day, it was a protective mechanism that kept our ancestors on high alert to avoid dangerous, life threatening situations in their environment. It was crucial for survival. Fast forward to today, and we aren’t in life or death situations on a daily basis. However, our brains haven’t caught up yet.
Did you know our amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotional responses, actually has two-thirds of its neurons dedicated to detecting and focusing on negative emotions? (1) Two thirds is A LOT of negativity bias! So this got me thinking…
How Do We Overcome Negativity Bias? The Solution: Dig For Gold & Seek Out The Positive
There’s no way around it. With the evolutionary odds stacked against us, we need to work ACTIVELY and CONSCIOUSLY to notice and focus on the positive experiences, stories, emotions and people that surround us. It’s all there! But are we noticing it? Here are some ways to start to practice positivity as you go about your day…
3 Habits to Boost Your Daily Dose of Positivity
1) Surround Yourself With Good News (and People)
The good news is there are people DEDICATED TO GOOD NEWS! (If I say good news one more time, your brain might explode into rainbows and unicorns, so that’s what I’m going for here). Thank goodness someone is dedicated to this cause! If you want to get your brain re-wired for positivity, The Good News Network is committed to bringing you the most inspiring and heart-felt news everyday. You can subscribe to receive a daily dose of good news every morning, so go ahead and start reprogramming that brain with all the feel-good vibes you can muster.
This goes for people in your life too. Be mindful of who you allow into your world. The people we spend time with can greatly impact our outlook on life, so choose wisely!
2) Start a Gratitude Practice
Ya, ya- we’ve all heard about this before, but does it really work? In fact, it does! There is a ton of research to back up how practicing gratitude actually changes the neural structures in the brain to make us feel happier and more content (2). You know those happy, warm and fuzzy feelings you get from giving someone a compliment or a gift? Well that’s gratitude in action! Turns out that gratitude triggers “feel good” hormones like dopamine, serotonin and norephinephrine which help keep our anxiety, depression and stress in check, as well as our immune system healthy. (2) Mmmm, yes please!
Writing down 5 things you’re grateful for before you go to bed will help reinforce the positive things you noticed and experienced that day, and trust me (and the research!), you’ll be happier for it.
3) Set Yourself Up For Positivity With A Morning Ritual
Whether it be dancing in your underwear to your favorite song, reading a “good news” article or getting quiet and grounded with a 5-10 minute meditation practice, start your day with something that reminds you you’re in it to win it! And by win it, I mean you’re dedicated to infusing your day with positivity.
To sum it up, become a gold-digger! The best kind of gold-digger is one who seeks out the positive spin to any situation and chooses to focus on it daily. Of course, this doesn’t mean fake your way through hardship. Grief, anger, loss, sadness, loneliness… these are all LEGIT emotions and experiences that need to honored and worked through, all in good time. Make sure you’re being real with yourself and getting the support you need through these challenging times. These practices will just give you a little nudge towards also looking for the positive that surrounds you on a daily basis to keep your heart and mind balanced.
Between Covid-19 lock-downs, restrictions and isolation to the spotlight on systematic racism brought on by George Floyd’s death, 2020 has brought a whole host of negative issues to focus on. But this got me thinking… If we were to flip the script and look for the POSITIVE things that came from 2020, what would that look like?
Grab your favorite journal or open a new word doc, take a moment to reflect on this and write these things down... When you need a little reminder, go back to them so you can remember the positive gems.
What blessings came about from Covid-19 that wouldn’t have manifested if life had gone “business as usual”?
What opportunities presented themselves?
Did you finally decide to make a big move to a new house, a new city, a new country?
Did you repair a long lost relationship?
Did you let go of a relationship that was no longer serving you?
Were you able to save more money from staying in?
Did you start a project or dream that was on the back burner?
Was your quality time enhanced within your family?
In case you need some inspiration, here are mine (I'm a pen to paper kind of girl):
Now share in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you :)
- Marbella International University Centre https://miuc.org/brain-love-negativity-negativity-bias/amp/
- Positivepsychology.com https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/