What do you tend to focus on? Have you heard of the term negativity bias? What exactly is negativity bias? It talks about the human tendency to often:
- recall and think about insults more than compliments;
- respond more, emotionally and physically, to pain rather than pleasure;
- dwell on unpleasant or traumatic events more than pleasant ones;
- focus our attention more quickly on negative rather than positive information.
Even when we experience numerous good events in one day, negativity bias can cause us to focus on the sole "bad thing” that may have occurred. Do you find yourself thinking unpleasant thoughts, even though you’ve had a good day? How often does this happen to you? The most important question is, what are we going to choose to focus our energies and thoughts on!?
A beautiful anecdote on “negativity bias”, The professor. One day a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The professor walked around the class and handed the question papers with the text facing downwards. Once he handed them all out, he asked his students to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions, but just a black dot in the center of the page.
The professor looked at everyone’s confused expressions and said: “I want you to write what you see there.” The perplexed students began to do what they had been asked to do. At the end of the class, the professor took all the answer papers and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the students. All of them, with no exceptions, described the black dot, trying to explain its position on the paper, the size of it, the shade of the black color, etc. After all the papers had been read, and the classroom silent, the professor said quietly: “While everyone focused on the black dot – no one wrote about the white part of the paper”.
The students were stunned with this realisation. Not one of them had written about the white part of the paper. “This is exactly what we end to do with our lives - he continued. We tend to intensely focus on the problems, the disappointments, the issues, and the dark spots, magnifying them, thinking about them, talking about them”.
We rarely take the time to shift our focus. To see something else other than the dark spots - to see the white space. They could be the small little blessings, maybe love, or safety, security, or friendship, or an unexpected kindness from someone you don’t even know. If we really take the time to think about it, we will find many things that are truly wonderful!
Life is so much more than our dark spots, isn’t it? Probably, we just haven’t looked at the white spaces enough… What are the small blessings that you are grateful for today?