I meet new people every day. Sometimes it is a quick and simple conversation with pleasantries of hello, how are you and can you believe this Colorado weather? Other times, I have the opportunity to go deeper and get to know what is on their mind. All too frequently, it is said that our country, state, and city have gone to hell in a handbasket, that everything is wrong, and no one cares. The list continues with what is wrong:
- Wealth inequity
- Climate change
Blame is laid on politicians, world leaders, and religious systems. Out of this comes a culture of blame which breeds criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. Lack of empathy, compassion and understanding are strong indicators of indifference towards fellow humans’ feelings, safety, and well-being.
It is human nature to lean towards the negative. Our brains react more strongly to it. There is greater electrical activity in our brain when we interpret news and commotion around us as being negative. Long before living in the civilized environment, the ability to anticipate negative was useful in keeping us out of harm’s way. This same bad-news bias is also at work in every aspect of our lives, relationships, work, at home, and socially.
Have you heard the sayings “If It Bleeds, It Leads” or “No News is Good News and Good News is no News?” These are classic rules for news broadcasting, and morning newspapers. Wars, earthquakes, plagues, floods fires, murder, car accidents, political scandal, death, are featured as the top stories and get the front-page headlines.
It is no wonder that people believe that everything is wrong in the world. Because of the natural response to the negative, it is easy to go with the flow, stay stuck in the negative and believe what we hear. In those that I meet, I see anger, lack of empathy, self-centeredness, and diminished compassion. This means that people often expect the worst unless they are able to think positively.
When we get stuck in negative thinking, our brains get into fight-or-flight mode. This constant negative emotional state can lead to impacting your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. When you rid yourself of negativity, it opens space to allow positivity in.
5 Tools to Get the Negative Out
- Identify the negative people in your life.
Evaluate their impact on your energy and how you think. Seek out others who are positive. Decide to make new friends that
are positive. The sum of the five people you spend most of your time with impacts who you are. Hang out with negative folks
who whine and complain, and you will be someone who does the same. Conversely, spend time with positive people who are happy
and joyful, and you will find peace, and happiness.
- Practice gratitude.
The simple act of being grateful is a huge factor in overall life satisfaction. Gratitude is a practice to do daily, appreciating small and big things in life. People who do this on a regular basis, reflecting on the positive, experience improved sleep, more compassion, and stronger immune systems. Start your day by journaling gratitude. It helps start your day on a positive note.
- Stop telling yourself stories of what others are thinking.
It is easy to tell yourself a story that someone is judging you. It is important to remember that these thoughts are only thoughts – they are not real circumstances. Do not let the negative stories control you. In all likelihood, they are not even close to the truth.
- Take a regular scheduled break from social media.
Social media is the black hole that sucks you in the negative. It can be about others’ life circumstances or comparing your life with the lives of others.
- Remove physical clutter from your life.
Working in a messy environment, home, or office, can impact our ability to complete tasks as well as our overall mental health. Your visual cortex can be overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects. It is easy to get distracted by things in your space, tempting you to turn away from the task at hand.
Negative thoughts make you feel unpleasant. Removing toxicity takes time to incorporate into your daily routines. Do not expect perfection. Rather look for progress.
Keep this in mind as we wrap up this week’s Thursday Thoughts:
“Being positive does not mean ignoring the negative. Being positive means overcoming the negative.”