Happiness is within our reach. However, to have a truly fulfilled life you must make an effort. You need to become aware of your tendency – and strong habit – to focus on the negative first. One of the key factors to overcome this negativity bias is to actively cultivate positive emotions.

overcome negativity bias

“Far from being trivial, we’ve found that positive emotions broaden our awareness in ways that reshape who we are.” – Barbara Fredrickson

Positive emotions are one of the five pathways to a flourishing life according to Martin Seligman’ well-being theory. The other four are: Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. There is a sixth pathway. To know more: get my Special Guide by signing up to my newsletter.

We introduced in yesterday’s post Why being happy can be so hard the notion of the ‘negativity bias’. Scientists have tried to find a positivity ratio that is necessary to counterbalance this bias. It’s not 3:1 as claimed for some time, but it seems that you must indeed feel significantly more positive than negative emotions to achieve lasting happiness.

Cultivate positive emotions

As my mission is to foster A Kind Way to Experience Success, I’m always interested in the practical implications of theories.

Therefore, the question is: what can we concretely DO to overcome this bias?

  1. The first step is to become aware of when, how and how long you focus on negativity in the various areas of your life.
  2. Once you manage to detect when and how your mind clings to the negative, you’ll also be able to counteract this tendency.
  3. The last step will be to deliberately pay attention to the positive aspects and actively cultivate actions that generate positive emotions in you.

Cultivating positive emotions makes us stronger, healthier and more creative, IF they outweigh the negative emotions. We’ll take up the benefits of making this kind of effort to score higher in our ‘positivity ratio’ in tomorrow’s post.

Please note, the goal is NOT to live only positive emotions. Check out this exercise about just watching negative feelings – and letting them go!



Be curious: where and how does negativity manifest in your life?

2         FOCUS

During the next 48 hours, make the effort to focus your attention as much as you can on all the positive aspects of your life.

Let me know what you think of this article by leaving a comment. Thank you!

PS: this post is part of a 30 day blogging challenge.


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