Abstract: Scientific research shows we have more positive experiences than negative. Why then do we seem to almost cherish the negative and forget the positive? This article discusses how our brains are actually wired to remember the negative and how in our society today we are exposed to so many negative happenings around the world. How do we begin to embrace the positive and become responsible for our own happiness? By noticing the good happening all around us.
Scientific research shows that we have three times more positive experiences than negative!!! And yet we are so attuned to the negative and so blind to the good! Why do we embrace the negative and shun the positive? It is our habitual negative bias. In the midst of so much perceived gloom, the truth is we are bathed in light more than ever! And as we learn to practice gratitude for what we have instead of worrying about what we don’t have, we find God truly loves us as we are.
One reason we cling to the negative is because we are exposed to so many negative happenings around the world that most of the information we get through our eyes or ears is about what is wrong all around us rather than what is right. Research also shows that we are programmed to retain negative memories more than positive ones as a survival mechanism. If we forget to run when a tiger is approaching, that is life threatening! Taking time to smell the roses was not as important for our survival. Therefore, we are so prone to this negative bias in our programmed brain that is takes conscious effort to retain positive memories. Research again shows that if we are to retain a pleasant memory we have to hold it in our conscious thoughts for a longer time than a negative memory.
Due to this negative feeding from our external environment and our innate internal programming we start to strengthen our belief that life is a struggle, a battle, and always painful. Most of the time we forget the reality that in this very world, right around us, so much good is happening, so many good people are there, and nature and small children are dancing in joy of continual celebration!
Yet, there are too many distractions these days and too many negative things to handle. At times, we feel there is no way to run away from all this negativity. As such, we are glad to have happiness in life, but it is always a mixed blessing as it slips from our hands so quickly!
How do we begin to mindfully embrace the positive when we are so inundated with the negative? We need to do a compassionate unbiased analysis of our thoughts and feelings, and welcome the light of awareness into our minds to transform the negative emotions and beliefs into positive, higher consciousness. Mindfulness and meditation, prayer and selfless service, help this transformative process.
Every day we need to take some time to be with our self. Time for an intimate unbiased one-on-one with our self, just to become more conscious of our dominant traits, our natural tendencies. As we identify thought patterns we just consciously change these habitual thoughts with life affirming thoughts with deep faith in the power of universal wisdom and light.
We need to ask our self: Are we doing the same things that we do every morning? If yes, then we need to remind our selves not to forget that this day never came to us before and will not come to us again in this lifetime! We need to stop, ponder, and reflect why we are here? Instead of doing our same mindless, repetitive habits let us stop and become aware of our being and feel grateful, prayerful, and “heartful”! Let us celebrate each and every day as an opportunity to breathe with awareness, to work with mindfulness, to love with “heartfulness,” and to forgive with our “beingness.” Let us begin by not just spending the day; let us live to be ALIVE! Let’s not “kill time,” let’s live life!!
We are not here just to see some peaks of success and accomplishments, and enjoy the fruits of it. We are here to attain success that is beyond the temporal gains, success to access the power of our spirit, to be on our own, to remain calm when storms hit us, when dark clouds surround us, and when things no longer go our way.
If we truly mean to be happy, then we need to see life in its holistic way; accepting life as is, and not as we expect it to be. With each passing day instead of making life more complicated, let us try to simplify it. Only we can make ourselves happy, nobody else can!
Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari (India): Globally acclaimed spiritual and inspirational speaker, author, and visionary social advocate; founded Lokenath Divine Life Mission, 1985, which serves thousands of poverty-stricken individuals in India. Received Lifetime Achievement Award, House of Lords, UK, 2015.