Hardwired for Negative


How come it’s so much easier to stay focused on something that irritates us than it is to think about positive things? Have you ever noticed that? When you’re pissed off at someone you cannot get your mind off of that issue no matter how hard you try. It keeps seeping back into your thoughts. You may think about it for hours or even days! But happy thoughts seem to be fleeting. Those thoughts come and go quickly.

Years ago I finally got a solid answer as to why we are wired this way. I read an article in MORE magazine about hard wiring yourself to be happy. Yes, we have to work at changing the hard wiring! Here’s the explanation from Rick Hansen PhD. as to why we are the way we are. It’s fascinating!

“Evolution. Our Stone Age ancestors had to get good stuff, such as food, shelter, mating opportunities, etc. and avoid the bad stuff, such as predators, natural hazards and aggression between groups. Good stuff differs from bad stuff in its urgency and impact. If you fail to get that good stuff today, you’ll have another chance tomorrow, but if you fail to avoid the bad stuff today, you’re toast. So our brains evolved a negativity bias that allows them to learn more quickly from negative experiences than from positive ones. As a result, good experiences tend to bounce off the brain, while bad ones go right in”.

Reading that quote was definitely an AHA moment for me! Several years ago my husband and I decided that we were going to be happy no matter what was going on around us. Sounds easy enough right? You know the song “Don’t worry be happy now”. No….it was really hard. We had to focus and remind each other. It’s very easy for our minds to get off the happy track and onto the pissy stuff. Someone cuts you off on the freeway, you’re off the happy track. Someone takes the parking spot you’ve been waiting for, off the happy track you go. Your client no shows or that new client you worked so hard on doesn’t leave a tip…off you go! See how easy it is to jump off?

You truly can change the hard wiring though, it just takes practice and when you do, it’s amazing how things in your life begin to change. Another quote from Mr. Hansen “You can turn your brain into Velcro for the good and Teflon for the bad”. Love that!


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