Life isn’t so bad as we think it is.
I don’t discount, in any way, whatever difficulty you are facing. We all have our tough times.
Just like you and me, other people out there are facing a lot of problems especially in this time of the pandemic.
I, myself, was having some challenges as I was starting 2022. I had things to do but I wasn’t really moving forward as I ought to.
I wasn’t necessarily lost but I seemed to be stuck. I was like a car that has to go somewhere but remained parked in the garage for reasons I could not pinpoint.
All I was doing was simply to get me started. I was looking for ways on how to start the engine, get warmed up and proceed driving to the direction I need to go to.
Times can even get tougher than this. And when we experience something negative that leads us to a negative emotion, we at times ask the question, “Is life really this bad?”
To answer this question, let me share with you concepts that I learned in the area of positive psychology. (This is based on the course Positive Psychology I am undergoing with Dr. Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combined with some readings on the subject by other authors.)
People have negativity bias.
Negativity bias is our tendency to pay more attention or give more weight to negative experiences as compared to neutral and positive ones.
In other words, negativity bias says that negative emotions tend to scream. They are so loud and strong and we notice them much more than the good ones. When negative events happen, they are often amplified. And that is why you tell yourself, “This is really hard!” At times, you even say, “Life is really hard, it’s bad, it’s full of struggles.”
But if we allow that tendency to persist and propel how we feel, will it be beneficial to us? In most cases, amplifying the negative worsens the situation. When negative emotions scream, we become limited in our approaches and actions.
I’m not saying we should not notice the negative. Noticing the negative helps us stay alive as it often helps us stay away from danger or flee from something perilous. To a certain degree, it’s helpful. But it should go to the extent that the negative already controls and dictates your life.
The Positivity Offset…
On the other hand, positive emotions are more subtle. Why is it subtle? Because positive emotions are more frequent in life. They seem to be usual and ordinary that’s why you don’t notice them as much as you notice the negative emotions caused by negative experiences. (In another article, we will have a separate discussion on how negative experiences translate to negative emotions and how you can derail that negative trail.)
This is the reason why we should be very careful. In times that we tend to be negative, we must remind ourselves that while this negative thing is happening, there are more positive things that are happening.
Positivity offset says that there are more positive things and while they are more subtle than negative ones, when we notice them, we will be able to balance out or offset the negativity in some way. As we recognize the positives, the negatives will die down so we can proceed with life — to move on and move forward.
After all, while life is filled with difficult things and struggles, life is also full of beautiful, meaningful and fruitful things. Life is good still.
That’s why we continue to hold on. To press on. To keep the faith.
Understanding these truths about life helped me spark my momentum for 2022. I hope that this article will help you too.
Whatever difficult situation that you are facing, that too shall pass. Believe that you will figure things out. You will find the solution you are looking for. You will grow through the struggle.
Cheering for you,
PS: Share how understanding the concepts of negativity bias and positivity offset helped you in any way. (If you are a psychologist and I messed up in some technical explanations, please let me know. I always try to make things simple.)
Announcement: I am giving a webinar for aspiring authors on February 4, 7-9 pm. I will be sharing how you can write and publish your book in 180 days or less. If you know someone who wants to become an author, please let them know. They can register at bit.ly/authorin2022.