We live in a world full of negativity. Look at your surroundings, especially the media. What do you find? What kind of news are prevalent? If you look at the front page of any news outlet, it will not be difficult to spot the common theme.
In general, the news is about negative events. Front pages of newspapers are filled with news about crime, wars, scandals and scarcity.
It is the same story with TV news and headlines. Most of the TV news is about bad news. It is about fighting, crime and scandals.
This type of news may sound like the norm for most of us. But in reality it is anything but the norm.
We may or may not realize the media bias. But media predominantly purports negative news.
You may wonder, but why?
The media knows of a very strong human psychological attribute. Humans have evolved to be vigilant to the negativity.
It doesn't even have to be a conspiracy per se. People controlling media may not be fully aware of this. But they learn that negative news works really well for them.
In human evolution, paying extra attention to negative events or matters around us, has been of vital importance for our survival. It served your best purpose to be extra cautious of the news about the predators on the horizon.
The ones who were more vigilant of the possible threats were more likely to have successfully dealt with the threats.
The ability to be sensitive to negative information and to be easily aroused by negative information has been a very successful evolutionary trait that has been passed down to us.
The media fully exploits this psychological attribute of ours. The bottom line is this. We easily pay attention to negative news.
You may have come to believe that negative events are the norm. But that is not true at all. That is just because you have been conditioned by the media outlet that surround you.
Negative events are anything but the norm. They are the exceptions. They are the outliers. Most of the events that happen in the world are either neutral or positive. There are many more positive events that happen in the world than you would believe.
The reason you may doubt the frequency of positive events is mainly your conditioning to believe in the preponderance of the negative events.
For example, just take a normal day. For most of us, a normal day is very uneventful. Most of the events during a day are neutral and a few positive events that take place. But positive events pass by unnoticed. Because our obsession with negative events make us oblivious to such positive events. We miss out on most of positive events that happen to us.
We easily adapt to the positivity or the neutrality. But we don't easily adapt to the negativity.
Such an environment, gives rise to negative self-chatter. In our mind we start believing that the chance of negative events happening is more than it really is. We end up developing a negative attitude towards everything.
When we feel motivated to do something, self-doubt arises. Negative bias creeps in and we start doubting our ability, and the ability of others to help us. This doubt and the wrong pessimistic view of the future outcomes, further strengthen our belief that we are not going to succeed at anything.
We get stuck in a vicious cycle where we fail by default. We don't start anything new because we are convinced, we are not going to be able to succeed.
This ideology is much more prevalent than you realize. And you are trapped in this negative ideology more than you are willing to admit. Because of this, you don't take initiatives. You don't take risks, even the moderate risk.
On the other hand, if one wants to increase self-esteem, one has to have exactly opposite traits compared to the pessimistic mindset. One has to develop a strongly optimistic mindset.
I am not referring to the happy-go-lucky mindset, but I am talking about the optimistic mindset that is realistic. You may start debating at this stage that people are pessimistic because they are realistic. This is absolutely not the case. It is very likely that you have a realistic mindset, that is pessimistic.
Unless you unlearn some of the things that you already know, it is hard to see through the fog.
There is no other way, but to stretch yourself to increase the self-esteem. It means that you have to take initiatives. One has to take action and start doing something that one has not done before, out of fear. This doesn't mean taking a giant leap at the beginning.
One has to take baby steps. Take small risk. But one absolutely has to get out of the comfort zone. And even when you take baby steps, the setbacks are inevitable. Setbacks are part of the life.
At this stage, you may proclaim that this doesn't make sense. On one hand I claim that negative events are rare and on the other hand I am saying that setbacks are part of the life.
You are right. It may seem counter intuitive initially but that is not the case at all. You will face many setbacks, once you start trying to do something out of the ordinary. You don't face any setbacks, if you stay stuck in your cozy spot.
And one has to come out of his or her comfort zone if one wants to improve himself, be more self-confident, be more productive and be a better person. It is with this aim of self-improvement in mind, that one has to learn to become more appreciative in life.
One has to overcome the negativity and start recognizing and reinforcing the positivity that really abounds.
Given that our behavior has been conditioned over a really long period, it is not at all easy to change this negative mindset. But there is a solution. The solution is very simple and elegant!
All it takes is less than 5 minutes of gratitude exercise everyday. It is an extremely effective exercise.
All you need to do is take a few minutes every night and write down 5 different things that you are grateful for. They can be anything that you are really grateful for. It could be your spouse, your kids, your parents, your favorite food, your co-worker, your employer or something else.
The key is, you cannot write just for the sake of writing it down. You have to visualize and feel the emotion that you really appreciate those things in your life and you extend your heartfelt gratitude towards those 5 things that you note down.
Take 3 minutes to note down 5 things every night before going to bed. And take 2 minutes first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up to review those 5 things that you wrote down the previous night.
That is it! Just 5 minutes a day.
This exercise will start reconditioning your attitude towards more positivity. You will stop thinking negatively. You will be able to see more positive things around you. You will begin to worry less about setbacks.
You will begin to stop failing by default. You will begin to adopt a rational attitude towards setbacks. And you will not catastrophize such events.
In experiments, the scientists have found that such simple exercise has unbelievable implications. People became more positive. They started taking more initiatives. They were better able to handle setbacks. Their self-esteem improved. In experiments, such simple gratitude exercise correlated with fewer doctor visits. It has, not only psychological, but physical benefits as well. After all mind and body are connected.
In summary, a simple gratitude exercise has a tremendous potential for improving the person that you are. Gratitude journal is a must for all of us and maintaining this journal is very easy. It demands no more than 5 minutes of your time per day.
Mestipen Casamir is a writer with expertise in human psychology and personal development. You can check out his latest website No More Chances, where he provides details, reviews and advice about how to achieve success and how to live a better fulfilling life.
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