“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” — Aristotle
Having a negativity bias often has a more significant impact on how we feel than positive or neutral ones. Numerous studies have shown that people who cultivate negative energy experience more stress, more sickness, and less opportunity throughout their lives than those who choose to live positively.
Although negative and positive energy will always exist, the key to limit the amount of negativity that we experience is by expanding our mindsets and focus on the brighter side of things instead. Interestingly, in the English word, “plight,” there is the word light in it. In other words, there is always hope in every situation that we may be going through if we care to look hard enough.
Here are four suggestions for keeping your shadow in check:
1. SEE THE BIG PICTURE
In the research paper, “Seeing the big picture: Broadening attention relieves sadness and depressed mood,” Chinese researchers Gu L, Yang X, Li LMW, Zhou X, and Gao DG found that participants with depressed mood showed increased positive affect and decreased negative affect after receiving attention broadening training compared to those receiving attention narrowing training. Their findings “suggest a robust role of broadened attentional scope in relieving negative emotions and even mildly depressed mood in the long run.”
When we take the time to look at the big picture, it can cause a shift in perspective, modify our judgment, and ultimately change our focus and activity. Getting a big picture perspective tends to reinforce the essential things and refocus our attention on what we determine to be true priorities.
2. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Research also shows that practicing gratitude makes it easier to focus on the good things and accept the bad stuff. It prompts us to realize that things are not as bad as they may seem, which helps us stop the negativity. It also helps shift our attitude from one of lack and frustration to appreciation. This will ultimately make our life more fulfilling and joyous. There are several ways to practice gratitude. Some of which are writing gratitude notes, gratitude lists, or a gratitude journal. When we notice and savor the good things in our lives, it will produce good feelings within us.
3. BE AROUND POSITIVE PEOPLE
Our tribe affects our vibes. We are influenced by the people that we surround ourselves with. If we fill our network of friends and associates with people who are negative energy-suckers, we will eventually become like them. It is impossible to see the light when the people around us project only doom and gloom. Change can be scary, but separating ourselves from negative people can be a massive step to becoming more positive and happier. While trying to be positive by ourselves can be a good start, it can be a slow and tedious process. Surrounding ourselves with positive friends can make it easier to escalate it. Solutions to problems can be found when dark clouds are blown away and when light once again shines through.
4. CHANGE THE COLORS OF OUR THOUGHTS
Talking about light, if we want to improve our mood, we must let the light in us shine through. To do so, we must work hard to change the color of our thoughts from dark and gloomy to bright and sunny. It is proven that when our body is exposed to too little sunlight, the amount of serotonin available in the brain decreases. Low levels of serotonin are strongly associated with depressive symptoms. A Dutch study published in 2013 found that just 30 minutes of light therapy per day for three consecutive weeks was enough to reduce symptoms of depression significantly. In the same manner, we can paint our thoughts with brighter colors to liven our mood.
The negativity bias is powerful, and fighting it will take time. But it’s all well worth the effort. Practice the above suggestions consistently, and you’ll notice your negativity bias shrinking, and the light begins to shine through your plight.
“Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” — Micah 7:8
“My God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” — John 8:12.
See the light yet?
Fred Tokè a.k.a. Dr. Tokèmon