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Two Common Errors in Thinking

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Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today, we're going to be talking

about two common areas in thinking

and how we can overcome them.


So the two fundamental areas of

thought that actually really warp

the way we humans tend to see and

experience the world are these.

The first is that we tend to

overestimate the bad in life.

And two, we tend to

underestimate the good in life.

So why do we have these two

common errors in thinking?

It's because of the brain's

built in negativity bias.

This is also known as

positive-negative asymmetry.

So this bias that the mind has towards

the negative is totally normal, for

all of us, because as human beings

evolved, it was vitally important to

pay attention to and react to negative

experiences really quickly so that we

could outwit predators and avoid danger.

So, you come out of your cave when

you're a caveman in the morning and see

a rainbow on one side, a dark shadow of

a predator on the other side, and your

attention needs to go to that shadow

really fast and ignore the rainbow.

Otherwise you might never

see a rainbow again.


So our brains evolved to highlight

those negative experiences, store them

in memory so that we could remember

how to avoid future potential threats.

Now, the thing is that we don't live in a

world anymore where there was a constant

sense of threat and danger, like for

our caveman ancestors in years gone by.

But our brains still

operate in the same way.

And because of the negativity

bias, a few things tend to happen.

We stew on our problems and

what's wrong more than dwelling

on what's right in our lives.

We recall insults more than complements.

Remember painful and negative

experiences much more effectively

than we do positive ones.

And we tend to think about negative things

much more frequently than positive things.

And we also actually tend to react

to and be impacted by negative

events much more than positive ones.

So over the long-term, this bias

towards the negative can develop

in us a growing tendency to be

pessimistic, stressed, and negative.

So how do we correct this

kind of error in perception?

I'm going to share with

you today three tips.

The first one is to deliberately take

time each day to focus on gratitude.

Gratitude is a powerful

antidote to the negativity bias.

You might start by writing down three

things that you're grateful for every day.

Do that before bed, or when

you wake up in the morning.

The second thing that's really easy

to do is when you find your mind

dwelling on the negative over and

over, just try questioning the thoughts

and challenging them and offering

yourself a more balanced perspective.

So this doesn't mean denying

that there are unpleasant things.

There are unpleasant things might be

happening such as a criticism at work,

but also offering yourself a reminder

that their were compliments too.


So don't allow yourself to

only focus on the negative.

The third thing to do is

to just take in the good.

So as you're going about your

daily life, deliberately notice

the simple pleasures around you.

A lovely piece of music, a bird song in

the garden, a cozy, comfortable chair,

the feeling of sunlight on your skin.

Allow yourself, when those good things

arise, to pause and really soak them

in, take in the good all around you.

So these are three practices that

will bring balance to your mind,

give you greater clarity and more

enjoyment and contentment in your life.

We're going to focus on this a

little more in today's meditation.

So let's settle in now for that.

And as always, thank

you for your practice.

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