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It's Time to Celebrate

Have you ever had the sense that all you're doing is focusing on what is going wrong?

Do you dwell on the negatives and worry about seemingly never ending problems?

Do you feel stressed, anxious and constantly on edge?

You are not alone. Most of us are experts at focusing on the negatives and on what is going wrong in our lives or the things that are making us unhappy.

Research suggests that this might be an evolutionary hang up from way back when, when our very survival depended on being hyper aware of our environment and the dangers within (Norman et al, 2011).

And let's face it, we are surrounded by negativity. There is nothing but doom and gloom in the news, social media is showing us all the ways in which we aren't measuring up (luxury holidays, dream weddings, job promotions anyone?) and magazine articles seem to be devoted to telling us how to improve our work/home/social/love lives.

With all this information overload is it any wonder that all we see is bad?

Here's an idea though- things are rarely that black and white. Your life might seem overwhelmingly crappy but I bet there are good things in it, you might just not recognise them as such.

This is called negativity bias. Negativity bias means that we recognise bad things and often feel these more intensely, but ignore/don't notice the good (C.Moore,2019). In other words, positive stuff just isn't on our radar and doesn't grab our attention in the same way that negative experiences do.

Looking for the good things in your life might take a bit of practice and they might not be big things, but remember that small things add up too. For example you might hate your job but you might have a great relationship with your children. Your friends might all be running marathons whereas you get out of breath going for a walk but you might bake the best brownies for miles around. You might be feeling stressed out but seeing a butterfly in your garden might make you smile and take your mind off your problems for a couple of minutes. You might feel utterly depressed but cuddling your dog every day gives you a moment of joy.

The point I'm making here is that big or small, these positive experiences are scattered throughout our daily lives but often go utterly unnoticed. We might be taking good relationships with our partner, children, relatives or friends for granted. And how often do we really pay attention to what's happening in our gardens or the countryside around us?

Maybe it's time to celebrate our wins, no matter how small or insignificant they seem. They are still wins!

You might wonder how do you do this? A good way to start might be to take a bit of time at the end of each day and to reflect back on your day. If you want to, you could write down a couple of things in a journal or notebook. You might want to think about:

What made you feel happy?

What went well today?

What are you grateful for?

How are you feeling?

By doing this on a regular basis, you will start to shift your focus back to a more balanced view and perspective of your life and your experiences. It won't stop you from having a bad day and it won't solve your problems or mean that you will never feel stressed or anxious again, but it will help you to find pockets of happiness and remind you that life isn't all bad. That in itself can have positive impact on your overall wellbeing.

So let's celebrate our wins, big and small, because they matter just as much!






References

Moore Catherine, Psychologist (2019). What is Negativity Bias and can it be ovecome?, Positive Psychology, https://www.positivepsychology.com/3-steps-negativity-bias/ , accessed on 21.07.2023

Norman et al (2011). Current emotion research in psychophysiology: the neurobiology of evaluative bivalence, Emotion Review, 3, Pages 349-359

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