Think back to your last performance review. “Your boss starts by saying 19 positive things”, says Hanson, “But there is one piece of criticism at the end , and that’s what you remember.What sticks is the negative 20th thing.”
That overreaction….called negativity bias in psychology circles..helped keep ancient humans alive.
“Ancestors had to ‘get carrots’ meaning food and mates and ‘avoid sticks’ such as predators,” Hanson explains. “If you don’t get a carrot today, you’ll have another chance tomorrow. But if you fail to avoid a predator? What, game over. Our brains became wired to hyper-focus on bad news,” he continues…The brain is like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones.”
Simple practices can help you counteract this bias. “Negativity quickly become neural structure,” he says.” Positive experiences, however, can take more time to encode. Intentionally feeling positive experiences longer helps them sink in, which can help you become happier and more resilient.” Savor receiving a compliment. Be mindful during happy moments, note details so they are easier to remember.
From”The Beautiful Life of Your Brain” by Hanson featured in Reader’s Digest 9/2014