Warum wir uns immer auf das eine Schlechte fokussieren?

Our brain is programmed to perceive dangers and risks more than positive. According to research, around 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts are processed in the human brain every day. However, research also says that 80% of the thoughts that go through our heads are either negative or repeat.

Even if 397 things go well a day, it is often this one thing that did not go perfectly, a mistake or an embarrassing statement that is particularly noticeable and remains remembered.

In scientific literature, this distorting power of the negative is known under several terms: negativity bias, negativity dominance or simply negativity effect. Whatever you want to call it is a general human tendency to be influenced more by negative events and emotions than by positive.

Why do we have so many negative thoughts?

This tendency to pay more attention to bad news is probably an evolutionary adaptation to protect ourselves from damage because we have to be able to quickly recognize threat signals to avoid them. But, in our world, nowadays, there is no lion around the corner that wants to attack us.

How do we handle this?

We can compensate for the tendency of the negativity by concentrating on the positive in order to obtain a more balanced perspective. Due to the disproportionate weight that our brain gives to the negative events, this balance does not mean a ratio of 50 to 50. John Gottman and Robert Levenson tried to find out what the "magical relationship" is. And he found it out! The magical relationship is five to one. This means that we have to experience five times more small positive experiences than negative ones, in order to achieve balance. 

One more possibility would be: stay busy!

Keeping our mind busy is a great way to combat negative emotions. In addition, we manage to be constantly active and keep our plans going. We remain positive, hopeful and motivated. We also have no time to deal with bad feelings such as worries, sadness, loneliness, anger or jealousy. It's like in a tunnel. As long as you go on, you get closer to the light.

Written by Mara Schär

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