A simple trick to balance out your Negativity Bias

Gosh it’s been a tough week, hasn’t it? The gathering darkness, a second lockdown fast approaching and a long winter stretching ahead.. Like many people I’ve definitely noticed a dip in my mood, so I’ve been trying to practice what I preach and started making a conscious effort to tune into small everyday pleasures in my life.

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Our brains are wired to be really good at noticing threats and problems, which is great for our survival, but not so helpful for our happiness! (it’s what neuro-psychologist Rick Hanson calls the Negativity Bias). To balance this natural tendency towards the negative we have to allow ourselves to fully experience and dwell on any pleasant experiences we may have. You don’t have to create special experiences – just normal everyday things like a warming mug of tea, a really good hug, birdsong, a cosy jumper, the sound of rain on the window, a beautiful sunset – ordinary experiences which we might not normally notice. So rather than just glancing at the sunset, we choose to stay with it for a little longer (say 20-30 seconds) and really allow ourselves to take it in fully; the shifting colours, the shapes of the clouds, the silhouettes of the trees…

It may feel trivial to ‘stop and smell the roses’ at a time like this but every time you do so you’ll be strengthening new neural pathways in your brain, training yourself to be someone who notices and appreciates small pleasures even when times are really really hard.

What everyday pleasures have you been savouring lately?

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