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Propensity for the Negative

removing obstacles Jul 02, 2010

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Do you focus on the people that like you or the people that don't like you? Do you focus on the 10 positive things in your employee review or the 1 negative? Do you focus on the things you have or the things you don't have?

Many of us focus on the negative. We have a "propensity of the negative."

Why? The negative resonates with our negative self-belief system that tells us that there is something wrong with us- that we are deficient in some way. Then we project that negative view onto people and situations.

And... negative choices are reinforced easier than positive ones. When we make a poor decision, we are painfully made aware of its consequences. I speed; I get a ticket. One-hundred some bucks and my insurance goes up. How could I be so stupid?

But... positive choices are more subtle and nebulous. We often never realize the grief that a simple positive decision spares us. We decide to stop driving for the night because we are tired.

We never get the information that if we would have continued, we would have been in an accident that would have killed a family member. The negative gets reinforced; the positive does not.

There have been numerous studies that appreciating what you have is a major indicator of happiness. Positive thoughts allow you to see possibilities and create the life that you want. 

Recognizing the positive in others makes a huge difference in their lives and even creates hope for them (because most of the other people they know are pointing out the negative in them).

Yet we continue to focus on the negative. How come?

It is a habit. Nothing more, nothing less. You can change a habit if you choose to. They say you can rewire your brain in about 30 days. There are numerous therapists, coaches, books, and programs that can help you change it.

Or do it yourself- pay attention to and become aware of how you view things and make a different choice.

So which do you choose: half-full or half-empty? This is quite possibly the most important choice you make- over and over and over...

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

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