As human beings, our brains are hardwired for noticing patterns and filtering our environments. But what happens when our brains become biased towards only the negative aspects of our life and forget to filter in the positive? Before you know it you are going about our day focusing on all of the negative events, completing ignoring positive moments and eventually find that you are more irritable and possibly more depressed.
If you find yourself engaging in this sort of mindset, first off, just pause for a moment and breathe. Try to remember that even the worst days have positive moments woven throughout. It is your job to think back on your day and find these moments. Remembering the positive moments shifts our minds from a state of pessimism to a place of well-being. If finding the positive moment is too arduous a task, then cast a wider net of gratitude. Positive psychology research has consistently shown strong correlations between gratitude and increased levels of happiness. Emmons and McCullough (year) put the gratitude hypothesis to the test when they asked participated two write a few sentences each week, focusing on different topics. The first group was instructed to write about their daily irritations and unpleasant throughout the week, the second group was asked to write about aspects of their week that had impacted them with no particular focus, and the last group was asked to write about things they were grateful for that occurred during the week. At 10-weeks, Emmons and McCullough evaluated their level of well-being and found that the group who wrote about gratitude had increased optimism and greater life satisfaction than the other groups. Additionally, they found that the gratitude group engaged in exercise more frequently and had less visits to the doctor. So if you find yourself stuck in a negative mindset…just remember to pause, breathe and remind yourself of the things in your life to be thankful for.