Grateful For – Frances Maratos

So what you might not realise is that as humans we have what is known as a ‘negativity bias’.

As Dr. Rick Hanson states ‘the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones’. What this means is if you go shopping and have nine good experiences and one bad experience (e.g. nine friendly and helpful shop assistants vs. one rude and unfriendly shop assistant), which experience/s -do you think- you are most likely to think about, talk to others about and remember in most detail?

This negativity has served us very well in our evolutionary past because it helped save us from danger, but in present day life it can also lead us to focus too much upon events we have interpreted as negative; even from a young age.

So how to address this and ensure more positivity? One simple tactic adopted in our household (and that of several colleagues I work with, as well as friends) is ‘grateful for’.

What this basically means is that once a day when we are together as a family, everyone reflects on something they have been grateful for that day.

You may think this is harder during COVID-19, but perhaps not. It could be something as simple as getting to play a favourite game, that a new garden plant/herb is budding or even that your online shop was delivered with only two substitutions!

It really doesn’t matter what it is, but the point is for everyone to contribute and think about something positive they can be grateful for.

This we all know is good for well-being and so a tip that is also very useful for stuck at home moody teenagers ..or parents!

If you want to read more about the negativity bias, Rick Hanson provides a nice overview in one of his blog posts: http://www.rickhanson.net/stephen-colbert-we-dont-need-to-keep-fear-alive/

Author Bio

Dr Frances Maratos is an Associate Professor and Reader of Emotion Science at the University of Derby and leads on the Compassion in Schools programme. Further details of Frankie’s research and areas of interest is available here , along with some of the University blogs she has written.

1 Comment

  1. Totally agree Chris, this is something I started trying to do at the beginning of this year and whilst not so religious about it daily now it built more of an awareness that I’ve managed to carry forward. I also know one of my friends who is finding things very tough at the moment is making a real effort with daily gratitude. Great shout!

    Liked by 1 person

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