Have you ever noticed that a negative event has more profound effect on us than a positive event?
This is because our brains are hard-wired to focus on the negative. Negative events and thoughts impact our memory, mind and mood more than positive ones. This “negativity bias” of the brain is useful to our survival in ancient times but not so useful in the 21st century. This negativity bias creates anxiety and stress, it also lowers our productivity, clouds our judgments and affects our wellbeing.
Research found that by practicing mindfulness, we can rewire our brain to be more positive, to accentuate positive experiences and maintain tranquility. Our brains can change, physically, as a result of learning, therefore, practicing a positive habit through mindfulness can predispose our thoughts to be more affirmative. There are two key components of mindfulness: to maintain an awareness of our immediate thoughts, feelings, and surroundings; and to accept these thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Below are some simple steps that we can all practice to incorporate mindfulness in our daily life:
1. Take a short break from work several times a day, to give our mind a break and look at something different.
2. Practice looking for small moments of beauty or kindness. For example, appreciating the colorful blooming flowers or being grateful for having a colleague/friend to go to lunch with together.
3. Learn to search for and comment on the positive qualities and actions of others. Appreciating the good in others creates a ‘virtuous cycle’ that builds positive communication and relational habits.
The Biology of Positive Habits, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2016.