Having a positive mental attitude is essential to physical and emotional health. Positivity helps us deal with (and bounce back from) setbacks more easily. Unfortunately, being upbeat can feel as daunting as climbing Everest. The good news is it only takes 12 seconds to shift gears from mumbling, “yuck,” to shouting, “yay!” from the top of a mountain (Everest or otherwise). Here’s how to trick your brain into being more positive—and why it works.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: negative thoughts. They are normal. In fact, humans gravitate towards negativity! According to neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, PhD, our brains react more strongly to negative feelings and better retain lessons learned from bad experiences (versus good ones). In other words, painful stuff imprints itself more easily on our brains. This negativity bias kept humans alive during our hunter-gatherer days, which is great. For the 21st century? We could all probably use a little less negative thinking in our lives.