Why Is It Hard to Focus on the Bright Spots?

We have shared the research on the benefits of a strengths-based approach and actually we have spent all month on the habit for this month: Focusing on the Bright Spots. But why is this so hard?

Our brains have what’s called a negativity bias. Unfortunately this works against us as we try to focus on the positives in our life. Even though this served our ancestors well, it often gets in the way now of our ability to thrive. Since this negativity bias is hard-wired into our brains, we can’t easily get rid of it, but we can focus on the 5:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts in the interactions and relationships that we have.

Elena shares this advice in Chapter 7 of Onward, “When I notice that my brain has latched on to something it perceives as a threat, I tell myself, With all due respect to my ancestors, there are no saber-toothed tigers, and then I say, Right now everything is okay, and I direct my attention to something that is neutral or positive – the passing of a cloud, the student who has already pulled out his notebook, the welcoming look on a colleague’s face. Managing my brain’s negativity bias is a daily practice, but one that has grown easier through the strategies I’m sharing with you (in this chapter and in the workbook), as well as through meditation, which calms the mind so that it’s not hijacked by someone’s grumpy expression.”

Challenge yourself to work through the next time you notice your negativity bias kicking in!