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Ever feel like being positive is hard work?

August 31, 2014

 

If so, you’re not alone!

 

Everything from the news, a bad night’s sleep, the struggle of juggling it all, work stress to financial strain can make feeling positive way more challenging than you think.

 

Here’s the expert bit.

 

FACT: Feeling positive is NOT something we as human beings are naturally inclined to feel. And the reason goes WAY BACK. Think Stone Age.

 

The part of your brain associated with feelings of happiness, creativity, self-worth, peace and love lives in the left prefrontal lobe. However, most of us are tuned into the reptilian part of our brain.

 

This part tends to dominate our responses to everyday life because in evolutionary terms, it was crucial to survival, triggering the fight-flight-or-freeze response.

 

Even though most of us are not living in life threatening situations or environments, even though it might feel like that sometimes :),  the fight-flight-freeze response is like a default setting in our brain carried through from our ancestors!

 

Rick Hanson Ph.D, neuropsychologist and best-selling author talks about the brain’s“negativity bias” in his book Hardwiring Happiness. This explains why it’s actually more natural for us to focus on the negative rather than the positive.

 

“Our ancestors could make two kinds of mistakes: (1) thinking there was a tiger in the bushes when there wasn’t one, and (2) thinking there was no tiger in the bushes when there actually was one. The cost of the first mistake was needless anxiety, while the cost of the second one was death.

 

Consequently, we evolved to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once… the default setting of the brain is to overestimate threats, underestimate opportunities, and underestimate resources both for coping with threats and for fulfilling opportunities.”

 

Here’s the thing about feeling positive. Based on this ‘negative bias’, people who have a greater sense of well-being and who are more positive, choose to be that way and work at it daily.

 

That is the secret.

 

You literally have to choose how you respond to everyday stresses and strains and use strategies that help maintain or realign your positive state of mind.

 

I know I do everyday   It’s a choice I make and when I don’t that ‘negativity bias’ usually wins. So here are some of my ways to keep me smiling and not grrring!

 

1. Get outside: If you’re got a piece of green space or water nearby, use it, go for a walk, get some fresh air, run. I know being outside helps me get a fresh perspective, feel calmer, more peaceful and happy.


2. Music: Thank God for Spotify. I can’t help feel more positive and optimistic when I listen to something like Sigor Ros, Hoppipolla.


3. Phone a friend: Simple as it sounds, how often do you talk to someone who gets you, who understands? We all need a listening ear, to share a tear or a laugh to lighten the load.


4. Meditation: Whether you practice or not, simply by focusing on breathing slowly and deeply helps you feel calmer. If you’re new to meditation but interested check out this fab beginners guide!


5. Tapping: Known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), This is a simple and powerful way to eliminate negative emotions by literally tapping on specific acupressure points on the body whilst talking through the negative thoughts or feelings. I’m a big fan. Learn all about it here.

 

What about you?

 

What fresh approach can you bring to the week ahead that keeps you feeling more peace of mind, more of the time? 

 

I’d love to hear any comments or tips you may have and please share with friends who may like this post!

 

If you’d like to receive blog posts like this direct to your inbox every Sunday, you can subscribe to my beautiful mailing list.

 

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