We often connect our negative behavior to our general belief that the world is full of negativity, and we accept that as a normal thing. Forcing our brain to find ways to overcome these negative feelings and produce positive ones is a good survival technique.
Yet, science has shown that our brain isn’t programmed to promote happiness, to the extent we wish it did, but to promote survival. Our body consists of chemicals, which can be good or bad. The so-called “happy” chemicals, such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin make us feel good and are only released in short spurts. This makes us find new ways to stimulate them.
On the other hand, there is the chemical cortisol, also known as the “stress chemical”, which causes pain. It has a survival purpose and it works this way: the thing which ever caused us pain has a neural pathway in our brain. So, Cortisol helps us stay alert to and detect the causes of our pain and stress, and search for ways to stop them.
Although it looks paradoxical we often think that negativity gives us power. Loretta Breuning, the founder of the Inner Mammal Institute, explains that often negativity is only a habit. For instance, in 1896, reporters predicted that the invention of the bicycle would ruin society. They said that the bicycle would stop meaningful and long conversations by enabling people to flit in and out of social groups.
This ability to search for threats and negativity is what we have inherited from our ancestors. Although we can often use this as a survival technique, rewiring our brain to stay positive is of utmost importance. Here are some very useful ways:
Build a positivity circuit
To rewire your brain to look for positive things instead of negative, you should build a positivity circuit. What is recommended is that you try looking for positives for one minute, three times a day, and you’ll rewire your brain.
Pare your negativity
When you find out what causes your negativity, you can create positivity. You can easily do this by learning how to PARE your negativity with Personal Agency and Realistic Expectations. Personal Agency is knowing that your own actions can help you meet your needs. Realistic expectations mean that you can never predict your rewards and that frustration isn’t a threat to your survival. The Realistic Expectations lead to Acting Personally as you won’t wait for somebody else to accomplish your needs, but you’ll do that with your own actions.
Take care of yourself
How can you care about others if you don’t take care of yourself? You should maintain the well-being of both your mental and physical health. Activities such as consuming healthy food and drinks, having enough sleep and doing regular physical exercises should be on your top priority list.
Help and give people positive feedback
Helping other people can produce a double benefit. It’ll make other people feel good, but it’ll also make you feel more positive about yourself. Similarly, it’s important letting people know that you acknowledge positive things. For example, if a friend, a colleague or a teacher has helped you, let them know that you appreciate that by saying thank you.
Learn how to pivot
Instead of focusing on the negative side of things too much and too often, you can start thinking about the positive side. Dr. Breuning explains this by giving the Dog Poop example. Years ago, people didn’t have to clean up after their pets. Of course, this isn’t the case today. But the question is: Does the present situation make us feel happy? I think we all know the answer. Nobody cares about the fact that streets are much cleaner today, but we all worry if somebody doesn’t clean after their pets.