An argument with your spouse. A mistake made at work. A health issue you’ve been ignoring. When everything is quiet, our mind tends to wander, and unfortunately, it’s wired to focus on the bad things in life.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn to ‘initiate’ a strategy that nudges our mind towards more positive thoughts.
Brooding comes easily to most of us – and it makes sense why. Our brains are wired with a negativity bias, according to a November 2023 report in the US-based psychology news website Psychology Today. It’s why we notice and remember negative experiences much more easily than positive ones. This bias causes us to worry, ruminate about past mistakes or think about all the ways in which we feel like we’ve been wronged, thereby creating loops of even more negative emotions.
Needless to say, it’s difficult to break this habit. But it’s possible.
Instead of brooding, train your mind to focus on appreciation. It’s something we indulge in sometimes – maybe when we see a beautifully shaped shell at the beach or have a meaningful conversation with a friend. But encouraging ourselves to be more grateful in the moment takes a lot of practice. Just like how we build physical muscles through exercise, it’s possible to meditate and build our capacity for appreciation.
Here are three ways to do this, according to the Psychology Today report:
1. Make a list
It’s easy enough to feel victimised and list all the ways in which we feel wronged. But what about the opposite? It’s worth taking a moment and writing or saying out loud, a list of kindnesses that others have shown you. It doesn’t have to be a big moment – even just a kind word from a passerby, or an encouraging text from a friend, could be a moment to savour. Practice for five minutes, and mull over positive things you experienced during the day.
2. Remember the good times
Some call this a gratitude list. It’s essentially a series of good things you feel you have in your life, that you’re grateful for. You can imagine them in your mind, name them and replay them. Since the definition of ‘good things’ here is up to you – it could be something good that happened to you or someone else, something you’ve enjoyed in life, or people you cherish – the possibilities are endless.
3. Share with others
If you remember a time when someone brightened your day, send them a quick ‘thank you’ note or text. You can even mention how it impacted you in a conversation with the same person or someone else. By sharing positive experiences, you’ll likely have a positive impact on the people around you as well.