We are thinking creatures. The job of the mind is to formulate thoughts. Although, not all thoughts are held in equal standing. Negative experiences and images are more heavily weighted in our being than positive experiences of the same intensity. This is due to an evolutionary concept called negativity bias. Simply put, our brain has a much greater sensitivity to negative occurrences than positive ones. In certain situations this is a useful tool to avoid and prevent danger. For those times when we are not being chased by a wild beast or being burned by a flame, negativity bias can pose as a danger upon our attitude, emotions, and our relationships, if we allow an untrained mind to rest in that space. We all know the festering feeling that can turn our mental state south, stunt our ability to forgive others, and steal joy.
A practice in gratitude can begin to override negativity bias by outweighing it with more pleasant sentiments. A helpful technique called “Three Good Things” is described below. Before practicing, I would recommend revisiting my post on gratitude from last year. This will give you the proper framework for what true gratitude is and what it is not. As you begin this practice it is important to reside in truth, in the what is, rather than in a false ideal by discrediting pain and suffering. This is a practice about acknowledging the positive that too often gets overruled by the negative.
//The Practice of Three Good Things
At the end of every day, take a moment and reflect on three things that went well for you that day. Be sure to write these down, so that you can revisit them. Don’t worry if your writing, spelling, or grammar is horrendous, it’s not the point. I like to keep a journal by my bed, so just before I go to sleep I can record all of the wonders from the day and have sweet dreams. It does not matter how big or small the events may seem, just anything that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling of positivity.
1. Give the event a title.
2. Describe the event in as much detail as you can. Name people, places, things, and conversations.
3. Communicate how this event made you feel.
4. Explain why you believe this event happened.
If your mind begins to wander to negative feelings, connect to your breath, the inhale and the exhale, and then direct your mind back to the positive experience. Be kind with yourself, this is a practice and it will take some effort to keep your mind on the positive.