Remember that one time you fell down the stairs in 9th grade? Mortified. Or what about when you completed a project and 99% of the feedback you received was positive. Yet that tiny 1% of criticism just seemed to stick with you forever. I’ll bet you can’t remember half of the positive feedback you received on that project, or all the times you successfully walked down that same stair case.
Negativity Can Make a Huge Impact on Your Life
We are programmed to remember and be impacted much more by our negative struggles and difficulties compared to our successes. Sadly, it’s part of the human condition.
This phenomenon is referred to as the negativity bias.
The negativity bias is the tendency, as humans, for negative experiences to have a much stronger effect on us psychologically then a similar positive experience. This explains why we could be having a fantastic day where 5 things have gone really well, but then one thing goes wrong and we have a difficult time getting back on track. Annoying, right?
Believe it or not, there is a purpose to holding our negative experiences so close. It keeps us SAFE (or at least it used to)! From an evolutionary stand point, the negativity bias was our key to survival. Thinking waaaaay back to hunter-gatherer days, if someone got attacked by a bear while hunting, they’d want to make sure to remember everything about that experience so it doesn’t happen again, right? They’d want to remember where they were, where the bear came from, what they did to agitate the bear, etc. Back in those days, human lives were in high risk situations much more frequently. Being able to remember negative experiences to avoid helped to avoid danger in the future and was key to survival.
Bringing it back to 2018, our bodies haven’t necessarily evolved nearly as quickly as our society has. This means that even though we are much less frequently in high-risk, life or death situations, our bodies and minds tend to still react in the same old way, even to smaller stressors and events.
It takes a bit more effort to hold on to our positive experiences and that’s why today I want to talk about celebrating our wins, all of them, even the seemingly small ones. Learning to celebrate small wins and successes might just add up to a brighter day and eventually, less negativity bias. The more positive memories we add to our brain space, the better. This helps to diversify and deepen the memories we have to call upon.
Here are some tips & tricks to not let the good things pass by unnoticed & to learn to celebrate all of our wins!
1. Write about it! Every night before bed, think back on your day and jot down 3-5 things you accomplished that day. These can be super small or big goals. Anything from sending an introductory email to someone new that you’ve been scared to do, completing a workout, doing all of your homework, changing the sheets on your bed or simply taking a shower. It don’t matter! What’s important is that it felt like something positive to you.
2. When you’re feeling good or happy, savor it! Soak in the 20-30 seconds following a positive event when you feel damn proud of yourself, happy, excited, whatever it may be. Let your experience settle in your mind for a bit longer then you usually would to add to your positive memories.
3. Share with someone you love! This doesn’t have to be all the time or in an obnoxious, boastful way. The people who love you, love to see you succeed and be happy. Text your best friend, tell your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other, call your mom or whoever it may be. Let them know that you are proud of yourself because you worked really hard to achieve your win, no matter how small. (Hey, some days we could all use a pat on the back just for getting out of bed).
“It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.” – Darren Hardy
Have any small wins you can think of? Share with me! I’d love to hear about them!!