What do you see, the rain or the rainbow?
Posted on 23rd July 2014 at 07:30
With the World Cup, Tour de France and Wimbledon having featured in the news recently, the pundits have been busy analysing what went wrong. And, very occasionally, what went right…
Ok, if you’re an England football supporter, there may not have been much to celebrate; but why do people always seem to focus on the negative rather than the positive?
Often thought of as a very English affliction, the “glass half empty” mindset seems to be deeply entrenched in the modern world. Just look at the TV or newspapers if you’re in any doubt. So why do so many people focus on the negative side of life?
The usual answer is to blame our genes. That it’s hardwired into our DNA and down to our natural survival instincts. Of course this made complete sense in the days when we weren’t top of the food chain. A tasty snack for something big and hairy, with lots of teeth and a large appetite!
These days life is very different. Modern day threats tend to be long term, rather than immediate and life threatening. But our outlook on life remains the same. Isn’t it about time our programming was updated? Well, for most of the time, “yes”. But for those one is a million events, “no”.
Another explanation is that it’s all down to peer pressure. Humans are social animals. We all want to fit in with our family and friends. If everyone around us is focussing on “doom and gloom” then isn’t that going to be our focus too?
Or is it just a part of modern life? If this is the answer, then it raises a very interesting “chicken and egg” type conundrum. Which came first, our negative focus on life or the negativity in the world around us?
We’d love to say there’s an easy answer to this but, of course, there isn’t. The thing we find most interesting is that many people are simply not aware of their negative focus. It’s become such an ingrained part of who they are, that they never give it a second thought. That is until it’s pointed out to them. Or they meet someone who is relentlessly happy and upbeat. Even then, it’s easier to continue seeing things as they’ve always seen them, rather than choosing to adopt a more positive focus instead.
If you want to see things for yourself, try this little experiment a friend of ours has been running for the last few years. It’s quite simple. When you’re out and about, catch a stranger’s eye and smile at them. That’s it. We can guarantee the response will be the same in 99.99% of cases. A look of complete incredulity, being given a very wide berth and studiously ignored until out of range. Occasionally, it may solicit a shy smile. And that’s it.
Are we suggesting that you should force yourself to be relentlessly positive and upbeat? No, of course not. Unless you want to be.
Instead, try observing what goes on around you and how it makes you feel. What you learn may surprise you.
If your life feels good, and makes you genuinely happy, great. If not, why not look a little closer? We know it’s scary stuff, but you’ll thank us for it, we promise.
And here’s a radical experiment for you to consider. How about avoiding a major source of negativity for the next few days. And we’re not talking about your Great Aunt Edith, although it probably wouldn’t do you any harm!
Can you guess what it is? The TV. And “no”, we’re not kidding. Just look at the TV schedule if you’re in any doubt…
If that sounds like too much, how about cutting out the news and newspapers? With their relentless stories of “doom and gloom” nothing drags our spirits down quicker.
We know what you’re thinking, how will I know what’s going on? Don’t worry, those around you will still let you know, but you won’t get so bogged down in it.
And think of how much better you’ll feel and all the exciting things you could do with your time instead!
As always, the choice is yours.
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