1. Always look for the positive side
This would be good advice if it weren’t for the fact that your mind isn’t actually programmed to do it. But you are destined to suffer. For example, what happens if after presenting your project to four people, three of them congratulate you but one tells you that it was full of bugs? What opinion do you think will weigh more on your emotional state?
Exactly. As studies have shown, humans are designed to value the negative more than the positive. We become obsessed with the bad and forget the good more quickly. Our mind, if you will allow me to say so, wants to be unhappy.
This is known in psychology as the negativity bias, a common phenomenon in people who suffer from anxiety or depression. So negativity is not a conscious choice, but something that is deeply embedded within us. This turns us into machines for detecting threats, even when they don’t really exist.
But where does all this innate pessimism come from?
The answer is in your ancestors.
To keep our ancestors alive, nature programmed them to prioritize bad news and detect threats in a fraction of a second. Because in the middle of the African savannah, being able to detect movement in the undergrowth and identify it as a danger could mean the difference between living or dying.
Instead of always looking for the bright side, assume that your mind is programmed to present everything as a threat to you. It will surprise you less.
2. Fight to be happy
You probably think you’d be happier with high self-esteem, right?It doesn’t surprise me. We live immersed in the culture of happiness. Currents such as positive psychology, self-help books such as The Secret or popular phrases such as “a good face in bad weather” are determined to remind us that we should always be happy.
However, the more you try to be happy, the more unhappy you will end up being.The reason is that happiness is fleeting. We can be very happy during a stage of our life, but that will not last long. Because human beings always end up adapting to new circumstances. Proof of this is the study that showed that even something as dreamed of as winning the lottery does not mean any increase in happiness in the long term.
The more importance you give to your happiness, the worse you will feel. Because? It has been proven that wanting to be happy and being aware that you are not achieving it will make you even more miserable.
Forget about being happy. There are better things.
3. Set big goals
A classic self-help tip is to set yourself goals, right?Well, ambitious goals have a very dark side. They can obsess us so much that we find it impossible to imagine ourselves without them, sacrificing aspects of our lives that are actually more important.
Setting goals is a serious problem if you are not able to recognize that you can fail. Then they become something that defines you, and for them you will be able to sacrifice your health, friends or family.
Set smaller but achievable goals, and assume that failure doesn’t mean the end of the world. You can try again as many times as you want.
4. Reprogram the mind with positive self-affirmations
There is a current of positive thought according to which your mind believes what you tell it. Supposedly, if you repeat mantras like “I am an extraordinary person and I deserve to be loved”, your mind will internalize it and you will start acting like someone extraordinary.
We humans like to imagine that there are mystical ways to regain control of our destiny. But luckily, the books that popularized this type of theory have been disappearing from the shelves.The reason is that when you repeat to yourself that you are exceptional or wonderful, your brain immediately asks a question: why?
Your brain is not naive. If it can’t find the answer, it won’t believe what you’re telling. Rejecting the statement and you will feel worse as a result. Positive self-affirmations only work when they fall within the range of what is believable.
Don’t tell yourself how good you are if you’re not sure you can accompany it with a reason. Rather relax.
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