Beating Negativity

By September 2, 2016Fitness, Health
negativity

By Zach Columbia, BS, NASM

You have the opportunity to start your own business. It’s been your dream to start this business for as long as you can remember, but you never had the funds of the ability to launch, now you do. Of course, it’s risky. You don’t know if you’ll be successful or if you’ll crash and burn. Oh and then obviously in order to fulfill your dream and start this business, you’ll have to leave a secure job you’ve been at for the last ten years, that keeps you comfortable and allows you to pay all your bills. Now, what do you do? Not what do you do… like this is a hypothetical scenario, so obviously you chase your dreams. More like if you chase your dreams and it doesn’t work out, then how will you pay your mortgage and you’re your family…

Many economic studies have shown people are more likely to make financial and career decisions based not on achieving something good, but on avoiding something bad. In Dr. Rick Hansen’s, “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,” he explains that negativity is a survival mechanism. Thousands of years ago, not paying attention to stressors and negative aspects of life would most certainly result in death. For instance, running low on food stores could mean starvation, and if you weren’t constantly focusing on getting more food, you weren’t going to be around very long. Paying extra close attention to predators was essential for survival. You see, many of the things that we must focus on are considered negative, but are also necessity.

According to Hansen, not only does negative stimuli trigger more neural activity, but research shows negativity is detected more quickly and easily. The amygdala — the brain region that regulates emotion and motivation — uses about two-thirds of its neurons to detect bad news and it’s been this way for thousands of years. Stop and think about that for a second. Two-thirds of your motivation regulator is designed for your brain to focus on the negative, so you can stay alive.

Perhaps this is why so many people share the negative things going on in their lives more than the positive. Maybe it’s the way our brains are designed to function, but, allowing negativity to dominate your thought process can have a negative (pun intended) impact on you and the people around you.

Bob: “Hey Susie, how are you?”

Susie: “Uh, tired!”

Bob: “Hey George, how’s it going?”

George: “Super busy, bud.”

Bob: “Hey Scott, what’s up man?

Scott: “Super stressed man. This project is killing me.”

Negativity is everywhere. Go ask ten people you see every day how they’re doing or feeling, and see how many have a negative response. You’ll be surprised at how much negativity you are exposed to daily, if you just really pay attention to it. Turn on the news and it’s negative. Talk to your mother on the phone; negative. Get home from work, the kids misbehaved all day, something broke, and there are bills to pay.

Negativity causes stress, which we know is terrible for your health, but it also directly reduces your respiratory output, raises blood pressure and decreases circulation, and reduces your immune system’s ability to ward off harmful pathogens. Not to mention, that it makes you miserable and miserable to be around.

The power of the mind is an incredible thing. Look at placebo drugs and how something with no health benefits whatsoever can make someone feel so much better and reduce or completely remove their symptoms. While our minds may be programmed to focus on negative things, we’re much happier and healthier if we remain positive. Now, obviously being positive can require a lot of work and will power, but here’s some tips to get started.

  1. Only worry about the things that you can control.
  2. Always be working towards a goal, but make sure it’s a smart goal that’s achievable within a reasonable time frame.
  3. Quit complaining! Positivity attracts positivity.
  4. Start exercising!  Contact us for help with a new fitness routine – guaranteed positive results!

References:

Thorne, Blake. 2015. Why Your Brain Loves Negativity and How to Fix It. Web: http://blog.idonethis.com/negativity-bias/

Thriveworks 2013. 5 Scary Things Negativity Is Doing to Your Health Web. http://richmondcounseling.org/5-scary-things-negativity-health/