Oddball: “Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves Moriarty? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?”
― From the Film “Kelly’s Heros”
So what are we going to do about being hard wired with a negative bias? Accept it and just live with it? Or try to do something about it?
Being surrounded by so much negativity and being hard wired towards it; it’s a wonder we are all not complete manic depressives. But somehow, most of us, seem to lead reasonably balanced lives. So it is not all doom and gloom. We instinctively try to balance both the negative and the positive.
One of the ways we strive to hold the positive is we surround ourselves with mementos of pleasant events. We may have photos of family members and loved ones in our houses. We listen to music which triggers memories of past discos and situations where we first heard the tune; a gig or a concert; or when the music was playing and we met a person we fell in love with. We may keep possessions from our past, from our family, that when we see them and touch them, trigger pleasant memories.
One of my mementos, is my grandmother’s watch. Why is it so special?
She was blind and almost deaf for most of her life. Was she down hearted? No, not at all. Most of the time, she was happy and chatty. One of her constants was the Royal National Institute of the Blind designed watch that she would wind and listen to the tick tock. It is like a old fashioned pocket watch, but the top case, when it is pushed up reveals a watch face with no glass. Instead, the dial hands are chunky and there are raised pips next to the numbers on the watch. She would run her fingers over the face of the watch and be able to tell the time. Even as I type this, the positive memories come flooding back.
Another trick you can use is to record, remember and reflect on the positive experiences you have every day. Big or small it does not matter. As part of the MBSR – Mindfulness Stress Reduction Program; one of the activities you are asked to complete is to capture positive things and situations you are placed in every day. You write them down in a mini diary during the day. For instance: You say “good morning” to someone and they smile back at you; You hold the door open for someone and they say “thankyou”; You let someone in at a traffic queue and they flash their indicators. Anything and everything.
Then at the end of the day, read through the list and reflect on the day’s activities and how those positive moments made you feel.
There are some other tips you might like to try that are not related to Mindfulness or meditation in any way:
- Be conscious of the viral effect of negative people and how they can “infect” positive people. If you can, choose not to be with them. You can not change them, but you can certainly avoid being with them if you can.
- When positive events or interactions occur, savor the positive experience. Write it down. Record it. Photograph it. It is those positive moments that you want to remember.
- Demonstrate and encourage others to be mindful of the “triggers” that can stimulate negativity. Reflect on whether the negative situation has been exaggerated or blown out of proportion, and how it can be changed or minimised.
- Avoiding over-analyzing or ruminating on past negative events; rather focus on what can be done in the present in a positive manner. It is the rumination that build the negative memory sets.
- When at work, focus on the small wins and progress on a daily basis, and take time to celebrate those, rather than waiting for the end of a project or an extended period of time before celebrating sucess.
- Remember that it takes up to 10 positive experiences to counterbalance one negative experience. Perhaps you can see if you can record 10 positive experiences in a day. Big or small, I am sure it will be easy to capture them
Now you have reached the end of this article, why don’t you take a few moments to search out a treasured picture; a momento; a piece of music; or an object in your life. Look at it, hold it, listen to it and really feel it. Remember the memories it brings back. Positive ones. I hope, like my grandmothers watch and my memories of her.
If you liked the quote at the start, here is a collection from the film “Kelly’s Heros” where odd bal talks to Moriarty about “those negative waves”. Made me smile:
I leave you with the following quote:
“Try giving up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just some of them, and see how doing that changes your life. You don’t need negative thoughts. All they have ever given you was a false self that suffers. They are all lies.”