“Why so Serious?”
The iconic line used by the Joker in the Batman movie The Dark Knight.
Why am I talking about a film today? Well it points perfectly to one of our hard wired human traits.
To look for negativity!
That’s right our brains are very adept at picking out the negative in any given situation and then we have a tendency to dwell on it. Think about how many times you’ve had a good day at work and then someone says one thing you perceive as negative and your mood changes. You rush home to tell your friends and family how a certain person has said something to you and how you can’t believe what they’ve done or said. You probably called them some names too!!
You’ve probably done the same with your kids school report or a if you’ve had a review at work. Scouring them looking for the negative. Ever found yourself saying something like “Well done son on your school report but why have you only got an average in English?”
Well we have a tendency to overlook the good and focus on the negative.
In psychology this is called negativity bias and it means we are more likely to remember insults than praise, a bad experience over a good one etc etc
At the moment we are bombarded by endless bad news, differing opinions from friends and family and conflicting advice from various sources. It’s confusing and our brains are hard wired to pick up on this negativity and we then dwell on it. All day, people are talking about it, watching it, posting about it and so compounding the situation.
Today I wanted to talk about a simple yet profound habit that can help break that negative cycle.
Every morning and every night I write down a minimum of 3 things I am grateful for. Why twice a day? Well this means that the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night my brain is being asked to pick out the positive from my day. This is called bookending and can have a profound effect on the way your brain works.
During times of heightened anxiety or stress this can be a wonderful habit to implement. It may not seem like there is much to be grateful for at the moment so I thought I’d share some ideas of things I’ve written in the past.
I’ve written about how grateful I am to wake up next to someone I love
I’ve written about how grateful that I am healthy and have a roof over my head.
I’ve written about how grateful I am to have good friends around me
Other times I’ve written how I am grateful to hear the birds singing in the trees, to feel the suns rays on my face and the sensation of fresh air in my lungs. Just being grateful to be able to connect with nature.
This may all sound too simple but the science behind it and the results are nothing short of staggering.
So start by writing down 3 things you are grateful for every morning. It could be your loved ones, your children or your health. Anything at all.
In the evening write down three things that’s you were grateful for that day. It could be you are grateful that you were able speak with someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time or that you were able to walk around the park in the fresh air.
Do this for two weeks everyday and it can have a profound affect on your brain. Start to look for the positive in your day and don’t allow the constant negativity to weigh you down.