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The Negativity Bias in Our Brains

NEGATIVITY BIAS: To survive and pass on their genes, our ancestors needed to be especially aware of dangers, threats, and conflicts. Consequently, the brain evolved a negativity bias that looks for bad news, reacts intensely to it, and quickly stores the experience in our neural structure.

See, it's not just you with those negative voices in your head. We all have brains with a hair-trigger readiness to go negative to help us survive.

We can still be happy, but this bias creates an ongoing vulnerability to stress, anxiety, disappointment, and hurt.

The remedy is to foster simple, positive experiences — and to really take them in so they become a permanent part of us.

Watching a sunset? Dog lying at your feet? Parking meter up and you didn't get a ticket?

Open to the positive feelings and try to sense them in your body; let them fill your mind. Enjoy them. As if you were a sponge, absorb the experience as much as you can. Soak it into your bones, into your nerves, into your heart, your organs.

This is how we begin to change the wiring in our brains.

Ideas by Rick Hanson

Photo by Jim Mangan


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