Flip the switch: 3 ways to beat negativity
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Posted by: Barbara Francella
By Tricia Molloy
We are all victims of
ancient circuitry. As a primal protection mechanism,
our nervous system is wired to be hyper-vigilant
to perceived threats and danger. Science calls this phenomenon Negativity
In other words,according to neuropsychologist Rick Hanson
Ph.D., author of Buddha’s Brain, our brain is like Velcro to
negative events and Teflon to positive ones.
Most people need at least three
positive experiences to balance out a negative one, according to acclaimed
researcher Barbara Fredrickson,
author of Positivity:
Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3-to-1 Ratio that Will Change Your Life. It's
why we tend to remember criticisms over compliments, stormy days over sunny
ones and mistakes over triumphs.
Within an organization, opportunities
could be missed because possible risks are overestimated. Constructive feedback
to a team member could lead to a bruised ego and derail an important project.
Since positive emotions are linked to
better health and resiliency, greater creativity and productivity and a deeper
satisfaction with life, what can we do to counter the Negativity Bias? Here are
Consider what Fredrickson identified
as the 10 forms of positivity: Joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope,
pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.
Explore how to nurture each of these
forms. For example, when it comes to gratitude, write in a gratitude journal a
few nights a week to remind you of what is going right and include at least one
unique entry. Make a conscious effort to express sincere appreciation to
others, including coworkers, clients and family members. Or, find ways to
cultivate serenity by scheduling quiet time in nature each week or waking 15
minutes earlier to visualize how your day will unfold in the best possible way.
Practice mindfulness to put
circumstances in perspective. Acknowledge and celebrate small victories
every day, like learning new technology, completing an assignment or enjoying
fun family time. "The power of mindfulness,” Fredrickson advised, "is that it
can literally sever the link between negative thoughts and negative emotions.”
In "The Neuroscience of Happiness: An Interview with Rick
Hanson Ph.D.,” Dr. Hanson shared these insights:
"If you routinely dwell on your resentments and regrets, the neurons involved
in that particular mental activity will fire busily together, and automatically
start wiring together. Which will add one more bit of neural structure to
feeling discontented, mistreated, angry or sorrowful. On the other hand, if you
regularly focus on the good facts around you and inside you ― like your own
good qualities, such as patience, determination or kindness ― then the neurons
involved will wire together, stitching more resilience, hopefulness, confidence
and happiness into the fabric of your brain and yourself. Any single time you
do either of these will usually not make much difference, but the gradually
accumulating wiring of one or the other will definitely add up over time. As
they say in Tibet, if you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of
In your typical workday, think about
how you can focus on the positive. Choose not to gossip. Keep a file of awards,
accolades, emails and notes from delighted clients and supervisors for a quick
reference. Associate with others who also look on the bright side.
can you nurture positivity at work?
Molloy is a corporate
leadership speaker and the author of Working with Wisdom. She works to inspire professionals to be more
positive and productive through keynote
speeches and employee
development talks, workshops and webinars.
in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its
Officers, Board members and sponsors.
"Is a negative attitude
sabotaging your career?”
and more Learning & Leadership blogs