April showers bring May flowers. Every cloud has a silver lining. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Tomorrow’s a new day.”
These, and so many more, are sayings we’ve heard all our lives from our mothers, grandmothers, neighbors, well-meaning friends and family members. But why do these ‘messages’ hang around for generations and why are they so relevant for so many situations in everyday life?
Some research suggests that humans are ‘hard-wired’ to think negatively. ‘Earlier in human history, paying attention to bad, dangerous, and negative threats in the world was literally a matter of life and death. Those who were more attuned to danger and who paid more attention to the bad things around them were more likely to survive.’ 1 They call this trait or tendency Negative Bias.
The machinery by which we recognize facial emotion, located in a brain region called the amygdala, reflects our nature as a whole: two-thirds of neurons in the amygdala are geared toward bad news, immediately responding and storing it in our long-term memory. This is what causes the ‘fight or flight’ reflex – a survival instinct based on our ability to use memory to quickly assess threats. Good news, by comparison, takes 12 whole seconds to travel from temporary to long-term memory. 2
I believe that our natures yearn for the positive, the good news, the silver linings. I believe we are designed to believe in and hope for a positive outcome, a happy ending, THE happily ever after. We all know individuals who are eternally hopeful, always positive and constantly looking ‘on the bright side.’ If they aren’t ‘born’ that way, then why are they as they are?
I think every single day those people make a decision to have a good day. They decide to be positive, they actively pursue happiness and practice positive attitudes. We are the only ones who can control our attitudes and determine the outlook on our circumstances.
When we seem to hear only the bad news, only the frightening statistics, only the negative bias, I challenge you to change your attitude. Refuse to give in to the bias. Make a stand against negativity and choose positivity!
“The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.”