Did you ever have Opposite Day at your school? In some classrooms, kids get to enjoy the silliness of Opposite Day, the one school day a year where they wear pajamas to school, have breakfast for lunch, and engage in other fun, opposite-of-normal behaviors.
The biggest challenge to overcoming negativity bias is flipping the dynamic to the positive. Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic, and you immediately start complaining about being late.
In instances like this, I challenge you to play the opposite game. If you’re late to a meeting, you can think on your feet and turn your attention to finding a quick way to get up to speed on what your team already has done. Your overall relaxed, positive attitude will help you get more out of the meeting, as well, since it lessens the risk of stress clouding your thinking. You see, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. And until you focus your brain to look for it, the brain is going to see the negative reactions first. The brain’s going to look for the easiest thing, and the negative response is a lot easier. Negative keeps you in the comfort zone. Negative keeps you in the inaction area.
Positive, however, pushes you outside your comfort zone. Positive takes work, but if you play the opposite game and say, “Oh, wait a minute, okay, I’m stuck in traffic. Great. I can listen to another podcast. I can think of something else that we can do at work. I can think of something to do with the family. I got my own quiet time. I’ll shut the radio off and think about it.”
Playing the opposite game is critically important to our ability to stay positive. As hard as it can sometimes seem to find any kind of positive reaction to certain situations, like, having to deal with a major loss or setback—there is always, always a silver lining. You just have to coach your brain to play that game.
So try it today. Take an instance in which you experience an immediate negativity bias and play the opposite game. And, in the meantime, hey, stay fired up. Life’s way better that way.
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