Negativity Bias: Balancing Act

Here are three practices that help balance our brain’s  Negativity Bias

How Does the Scale Balance?

When you feel you are having a bad day, you might try the scale-and-marbles exercise that Sergio’s mom helped him do. If you don’t have a balance scale, use two dishes or cups, labeling one “Good” and the other “Bad.” If you don’t have marbles, use candies, dried peas, or uncooked macaroni. Any same-sized small objects will do! This is a lovely exercise to do in pairs so that someone else can help you see the small positive things that might otherwise elude you.

Make a Gratitude Journal

Developing a regular gratitude practice is great for your peace of mind, and it’s easy: simply carve out a little time to write and draw about things you are grateful for.   Recording these feelings of gratitude will help you balance the impact of the negativity bias. To start this simple practice:

Choose a notebook to serve as your Gratitude Journal.
Choose a consistent time to write in it each day or each week.
Write or draw at least one thing you are grateful for each time.
Periodically read back over what you have written, especially when you are having a bad day.
If you like, share your journal with a friend or family member.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal can be a powerful classroom or family activity, especially when people are willing to share what they have written with each other.

 A Gratitude Mindfulness Practice

Here is a meditation that helps us focus on the positive:

Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes.
Think of four people whom you love or really care about. Imagine their faces smiling at you. Feel what that feels like.
The next time you breathe in, silently say thank you to these people.
When you breathe out, think about how you love and care for these people.
Do this for a few more breaths: when you breathe in, say thank you. When you breathe out, think about how much you love and care for these people.
Take two more deep breaths and open your eyes.
You can use this same exercise to thank and appreciate coaches, teachers, friends, pets, nature, the world, and anything else you are grateful for.