The human brain is wired to give more weight to negative developments than positive ones. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. We form vivid memories of bad experiences as an essential part of learning, which gives us a chance to correct actions that could be hazardous to our health.
It is worth noting here that this is especially powerful when it comes to social interactions. In the evolutionary environment, our status within a group could literally be a matter of life or death. That’s why bullying devastates us, gaffes are excruciatingly embarrassing, and we’re always hungry to impress someone we perceive as higher status.
Some things have changed in the short time since humans domesticated themselves. Now that we are much safer than we used to be, or at least were until recently, our fixation on the negative isn’t always adaptive. It can be part of a wide array of mental health problems.
Perhaps we are at a point when a little negativity is suddenly a good idea, again, if bad news will help us stay home and flatten the curve.
But there is a real danger that the combination of relentless negative news and our social isolation will provoke rumination, depression, and anxiety. Counteracting that with positivity is not only super-cheesy, it’s hard! Nevertheless, it is worth brainstorming a list of positive things going in our lives. I’ll start:
- How happy my dog is when we go for a walk.
- It doesn’t look like it today where I am, but it really is spring.
- I’ve been able to reconnect with a great Instagram community, and am working on a fun photography challenge.
- The curve really is flattening in many places.
- All those people making masks.
- All those people keeping our food supply going.
- All those kick-ass doctors, nurses, janitors, lab techs, and other medical personnel.
- All those letter carriers and other delivery personnel.
- I’m getting $1,200 pretty soon. It might not really make ends meet, but I didn’t have to do anything for it, and I don’t have to pay it back.
And those are just a few. Please leave yours in the comments!
Signing off. Take care, and take care of one another.