Have you ever known someone who, when walking into a room, consistently finds something to complain about? Or, perhaps you’ve witnessed a co-worker who regularly predicts doom and gloom about each new project or initiative that gets proposed. In the same way, there are parents who can only see the deficiencies or faults of their children, completely overlooking their stellar moments. Author Daniel Amen calls these ANTs – automatic negative thoughts. Like ants at a picnic, a pessimistic and negative perspective toward everyday life can really ruin a good time.
People who consistently take the negative view – and choose to share it – have fallen into a pattern of thinking that is self-perpetuating. After all, synapse that fire together stay together! Their brain has literally been conditioned to process information and circumstances in a negative light. It’s a habit; and so is criticizing, complaining, and fault-finding.
All of us are capable of assuming a negative mindset. Dr. Rick Hansen, author of the book “Hardwiring Happiness” states that we have to work harder at being positive; that being negative actually comes more naturally to us. For example, he says our worst experiences in life are to our brains like Velcro, while our best experiences react to our brain more like Teflon. For this reason, it’s important for us to purposefully and intentionally savor our best moments – even replay them in our minds so as to reinforce their value and significance.
Not surprisingly, there’s a correlation between the ratio of positive emotional moments to negative emotional moments, and our feelings of happiness about life. We’re happiest when that ratio is near 5:1.
Which of the following statements do you believe? Success makes people happy…OR, happiness makes people successful?
Over 200 scientific studies involving 275,000 people found that HAPPINESS leads to SUCCESS in marriage, health, friendship, community involvement, creativity, our jobs, career, and business, according to Shawn Achor in his book “The Happiness Advantage.”
Teach your children to exercise their freedom by choosing a positive outlook to each new day. Here are three strategies they can implement.
Keep a gratitude journal and list three things for which they are thankful daily.
End each day by thinking about two or three things that went well during the day.
Commit five random acts of kindness each week.
It’s possible to over-ride the tendency to be negative when we are intentional about taking positive actions. Discuss this with your family and emphasize that our circumstances don’t dictate our mindset; but how we respond to each circumstance sets the mind.