The Small Things = Big Impact

It's so easy to get caught up in the small things that ruin our day. Think Ironic, Alanis Morrisette's smash hit from 1995; a traffic jam when you're already late, a no smoking sign on your cigarette break, or 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, isn't it ironic? It may not be ironic, but it is a perfectly normal phenomenon. Another smash hit from 2000 focusing on small negative events in a day is Bad Day by Fuel. Had a bad day again. She spilled her coffee--broke a shoelace, smeared lipstick on her face.

But, do these things really merit a bad day? No, but we are wired so that negative events have a greater impact on our brains, thus clinging to them more easily, often allowing us to overlook or forget the good and positive moments. This is totally normal and is called negativity bias.

Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.This psychological phenomenon explains why bad first impressions can be so difficult to overcome and why past traumas can have such long lingering effects. In almost any interaction, we are more likely to notice negative things and later remember them more vividly.The reason for this is that negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones. Psychologists refer to this as the negative bias (also called the negativity bias), and it can have a powerful effect on your behavior, your decisions, and even your relationships.The negative bias is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. Verywell Mind

Have you ever stopped to think about the small things that actually make your day just a little bit brighter? Let's try it!

These small moments that we often consider to be insignificant can have a positive

spillover effect from one day to the next. Research has shown that taking time to

appreciate pleasure-inducing moments can make us feel happier. Go ahead, pause for just a moment and take them in. Here's an easy one you can do tomorrow morning: Do you enjoy a cup of morning Joe? Put down your newspaper or tablet, close your eyes, and savor the flavors for just a moment. Do you feel just a little happier?

Something that has been recommend to me on several occasions is to keep a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal has proven to beat negativity bias. Try to avoid being too general as things like being grateful for good weather, for their loved ones, or a new gadget often don't have lasting positive effects.

Stay Specific

  • The more detail the easier it is to connect to the emotion.

  • If you are grateful for a specific person, write down the reasons why; if you are grateful for good weather, list the feelings associated with it; if you are grateful for that gadget, what has it done for you to make your life better, etc.

The what is less important than the feelings/emotions

  • Try to visualize the gratitude. Where do you feel it in your body? Once you find it, focus on that region. This will help build new, positive neural pathways in the brain and can even begin to break apart old, negative ones.

  • Write down the thing you are grateful for only after you feel it in your body. Experiencing it again will help us retain it and call it back when we need it most.

Personally I like writing my gratitude journal at night before bed, but others prefer doing it first thing in the morning. I find that, for me, writing down good moments from the day gives me the most material and it is more fresh in my mind. Here are some great tips from Intelligent Change on starting and keeping up with a gratitude journal. Happy writing!

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