Gratitude balances out Negativity

Gratitude balances out Negativity

Gratitude is a relationship emotion; it cannot exist in isolation. It always requires an act of kindness from another person. When we express gratitude, we acknowledge the kindness of others, and the very act of gratitude builds and strengthens our relationships with others.

Expressing gratitude makes us happier, healthier and more open. By practising gratitude, we are connecting ourselves to that particular positive moment in time, we are also connecting to ourselves and to those around us.

The human psyche has an unconscious negativity bias built into our brain's hard drive. This is the idea that we are more predisposed towards the negative things in life. This is also referred to as the DDT (dreaded drama triangle).

Gratitude is the best way to overcome this negativity bias. When we are grateful, practising 'deep gratitude' or living gratefully we reset our brains to a more positive and balanced default setting. There is an evolutionary reason for this bias. It is designed to alert us to danger and prepares us for the primal defensive mechanisms of fight, flight or freeze.

This bias can affect us even when positive things are happening. We are drawn towards negative thoughts, and these negative points dominate and control our thoughts. These negative thought patterns affect us in many ways, including the way we perceive ourselves and our interpersonal relationships.

These negative thoughts attract our attention like a magnet. Giving our attention to these thoughts creates a negative cycle and it can make us dwell on all the things that might go wrong, even if they don't actually come to pass!

It actually draws more of our energy to process negative thoughts than it does positive, happy ones! These processes can be launched into action by a (perceived) negative comment or someone's facial expressions. It takes a lot of brain energy to manage all the worries connected to that comment or glance!

Positive thoughts are often fleeting, whereas the negative ones tend to linger on. One researcher said that the mind is like velcro for the negatives and teflon for the positives! It can make us feel like we are stuck in the 'quicksand' of negativity bias!

When we practise deep gratitude, we interrupt the processes of the negativity bias. Even the simplest, briefest expression of gratitude releases oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) which reduces the negativity bias and resets our brains to a more positively balanced default setting.

We are always strengthening something; it is our decision whether we lean towards the positive or the negative. Are you strengthening negativity, and the depression, worry and anxiety that comes with it or are you embracing the positives through the power of gratitude and focussing on everything that is good in your life? When we focus on all the positives, we can design achievable dreams and targets.

Studies have shown that up to 80% of our thoughts are negative. By implementing practices of gratitude such as gratitude journals, regular moments of reflection and thanking people on a regular basis we can reset our dial to a more positive setting, which will give ourselves a more balanced viewpoint of our entire lives.