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Negativity Bias

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hey, welcome back to your Daily Mindfulness. In today's session, we're going to be talking about the negativity bias. This is your brain's inclination to focus more on what could go wrong rather than what can go right. And I know some of you are hearing that and going, Oh yeah, I'm very familiar with that experience. And others might be wondering why would the brain do something like that? So to answer that, let's look at evolution.

We'll go back about 150,000 years ago. We imagine two of our ancestors out hunting for food. They come across a big dark cave, and one of them goes, Oh my gosh, look at that cave. We should totally go in there. Looks like it's going to be fun.

So many things we could find. And the other one's going, are you crazy? There's no way I would go in there. Can't see anything. There's probably bears, tigers, like I'm terrified right now. So what happens? That one goes, ah, you're kind of a loser.

I'm going in anyway. They go in, there's a bear. They get eaten and then they die. Now the other one that was super scared, super fearful, anxious, stressed. What happened to that? They went back to camp.

They survived. They procreated. And then they passed down their crappy anxious genes to all of us. So now all of these thousands of years later through the laws of natural selection, we are literally wired to focus more on what could go wrong rather than what can go right. Why? The ancestors who had all the genes that we wanted, the ones that were very trusting and loving and super positive, well, they died very quickly.

The ones that survived were the ones that could stand in a corner and go, that could go wrong, that could go wrong, that could go wrong, that could go wrong. I'm going to stay right here and only talk to these couple people that I trust. So this is what we're left with, and this is why you might have so many good things going on in your life. But one bad thing happens and what is your mind do? It latches onto it, ruminates about it. You can't stop thinking about it.

This is the negativity bias at work. Fortunately it doesn't have to stay like this. What the research is showing is that we can actually start to shift the negativity bias. And meditation and mindfulness are two ways that we can actually start to develop that. So if we think about it very practically, in a meditation practice, what are we doing? Giving ourselves something to focus on, the mind wanders, we bring it back, mind wanders, bring it back.

Or we just start to notice the thoughts without indulging in those thoughts. So if those are negative thoughts or thoughts that might be coming from the negativity bias, we're practicing watching them, not fueling them and then letting them go, then returning our attention back to the present moment. In that way, we're not reinforcing the negativity bias in the brain. The more we do that, the weaker, the negativity bias becomes. And the more we can actually start to develop what we might say is a positivity bias.

Do we want the negativity bias to go away entirely? No, we need it to be able to discern what could go wrong. It is still an important part of our lives, but it's often so skewed in the negative direction that it's leading to extra stress, extra anxiety and extra depression. So as you go about your day, see if you can notice when your mind gets caught in that negativity bias. And instead of fueling it, acknowledge that it's a part of being human, but not something that you have to indulge in. Instead, watch the thoughts.

See if you could bring your attention back to the present or reframe the situation to be slightly more positive. In this way, you're reconditioning and retraining that negativity bias in the brain to be a little bit more neutral or perhaps even more of a positivity bias. We'll talk more about this in the meditation. I'll talk to you then and until then, take care.

Cory Muscara

4.8

Negativity Bias

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hey, welcome back to your Daily Mindfulness. In today's session, we're going to be talking about the negativity bias. This is your brain's inclination to focus more on what could go wrong rather than what can go right. And I know some of you are hearing that and going, Oh yeah, I'm very familiar with that experience. And others might be wondering why would the brain do something like that? So to answer that, let's look at evolution.

We'll go back about 150,000 years ago. We imagine two of our ancestors out hunting for food. They come across a big dark cave, and one of them goes, Oh my gosh, look at that cave. We should totally go in there. Looks like it's going to be fun.

So many things we could find. And the other one's going, are you crazy? There's no way I would go in there. Can't see anything. There's probably bears, tigers, like I'm terrified right now. So what happens? That one goes, ah, you're kind of a loser.

I'm going in anyway. They go in, there's a bear. They get eaten and then they die. Now the other one that was super scared, super fearful, anxious, stressed. What happened to that? They went back to camp.

They survived. They procreated. And then they passed down their crappy anxious genes to all of us. So now all of these thousands of years later through the laws of natural selection, we are literally wired to focus more on what could go wrong rather than what can go right. Why? The ancestors who had all the genes that we wanted, the ones that were very trusting and loving and super positive, well, they died very quickly.

The ones that survived were the ones that could stand in a corner and go, that could go wrong, that could go wrong, that could go wrong, that could go wrong. I'm going to stay right here and only talk to these couple people that I trust. So this is what we're left with, and this is why you might have so many good things going on in your life. But one bad thing happens and what is your mind do? It latches onto it, ruminates about it. You can't stop thinking about it.

This is the negativity bias at work. Fortunately it doesn't have to stay like this. What the research is showing is that we can actually start to shift the negativity bias. And meditation and mindfulness are two ways that we can actually start to develop that. So if we think about it very practically, in a meditation practice, what are we doing? Giving ourselves something to focus on, the mind wanders, we bring it back, mind wanders, bring it back.

Or we just start to notice the thoughts without indulging in those thoughts. So if those are negative thoughts or thoughts that might be coming from the negativity bias, we're practicing watching them, not fueling them and then letting them go, then returning our attention back to the present moment. In that way, we're not reinforcing the negativity bias in the brain. The more we do that, the weaker, the negativity bias becomes. And the more we can actually start to develop what we might say is a positivity bias.

Do we want the negativity bias to go away entirely? No, we need it to be able to discern what could go wrong. It is still an important part of our lives, but it's often so skewed in the negative direction that it's leading to extra stress, extra anxiety and extra depression. So as you go about your day, see if you can notice when your mind gets caught in that negativity bias. And instead of fueling it, acknowledge that it's a part of being human, but not something that you have to indulge in. Instead, watch the thoughts.

See if you could bring your attention back to the present or reframe the situation to be slightly more positive. In this way, you're reconditioning and retraining that negativity bias in the brain to be a little bit more neutral or perhaps even more of a positivity bias. We'll talk more about this in the meditation. I'll talk to you then and until then, take care.

Cory Muscara

4.8

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