3 Steps to Rewire Your Brain from Negativity Bias to Being a Positive Thinker
Do you find yourself spinning out whenever you have a difficult conversation or get bad news?
Maybe you tend to feel high levels of anxiety or you go right to the negative and fixate on that instead of keeping all the positive in mind.
In Buddha’s Brain, Rick Hanson writes
“Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.”
We naturally tend toward obsessing over the negative in life, in our jobs, in our relationships, etc… and overlooking the positive things. The good news is that our brains can be rewired through repeated, intentional effort.
The first step is to become self-aware and notice our thoughts as they come. We are more than our thoughts. For instance, just because you have an angry thought doesn’t mean you have to feel angry. You could choose to notice the angry thought, become curious about it by asking yourself why you’d have it, and then choose to reframe your feelings and have a different type of thought instead.
If you are able to imagine a red balloon right now and then let go of that image and imagine a bright yellow sports car speeding past you on the freeway, then you know that you are able to control your thoughts. They don’t have to overtake you. You can choose which ones to dismiss and which ones to entertain.
The second step would be to meditate on positive thoughts. If you tend to think negatively about yourself in some way, then each day, take 5-10 min to sit quietly and meditate on positive thoughts about yourself. Express gratitude for these good traits you are thinking of.
If your tendency is to react negatively to your partner every time they want to talk about something that is difficult for you to hear, then spend some time each day meditating on positive thoughts about them and your relationship with them. This will, over time, completely rewire your brain. People who meditate consistently swear by it.
Finally, each day write out at least three things you are grateful for in life. They could be small and simple or profound, but make a practice to do this daily.
Following all three of the above steps should help you get of the automatic triggered response of reacting negatively to every difficult or stressful situation and on the path to being a positive person.