The Normal and the Abnormal: Stop Negativity from Getting in the Way
Even small inconveniences can have a major impact on our lives. Here’s how to change your thinking.
Negative experiences — running late for work, forgetting your phone, getting stuck in traffic — are constantly to blame for ruining the entire day. The problem is, they occur all the time.
This makes it easy for you to run around thinking that you’ll never see a truly perfect day your whole life. However, with a simple change in the way you view your day-to-day experiences, your life as a whole will seem much more positive and satisfying.
So, let’s start with a basic question: why are negative scenarios so impactful?
The simple answer is this: negative scenarios impose a change in your life, and your brain doesn’t want that to happen.
When imagining your daily schedule, are you going to account for the fact that there could be a super long line at your regular coffee shop? Probably not. That’s a deviation from your normal routine, and there’s simply no time to go over every single possible scenario that could happen to you throughout your day.
However, when that long line does eventually appear, you might tend to make a bigger deal out of it than necessary. That’s a totally normal reaction! Your brain recognizes this negative change and blows it out of proportion. And, if you let it, something as small as that can absolutely ruin your day.
This brings us to the normal-abnormal theory. We see positive things as “normal”. This is because, overall, the effect that they have on our lives is minimal. Of course, this doesn’t apply to huge, life-changing positive events, but having a particularly nice day at work isn’t really going to affect anything in the long run. Relatively speaking, a nice day at work is pretty normal.
However, a horrible day at work is definitely something you’re going to remember. It negatively affects your view of your job, your coworkers, and your life choices.
You still have to go to work, but now you don’t particularly want to. That negative experience sticks out to you: maybe it was embarrassing or made you feel upset.
You’re going to remember that emotion, and, since it’s an abnormal one to feel, your horrible day is going to affect you much more than your good day. This theory can be applied to pretty much every positive-negative situation that takes place in your life.
Certainly, we would all be better off if we ignored everything negative and focused on the positive things. In fact, if we devoted as much time to acknowledging a positive event when it happens as we do to negative events, our day-to-day lives would feel much more satisfying. We would be more content to enjoy the little things, making it easier to actively have (and enjoy) a good day, every day.
The problem with achieving this is that it’s hard to stop worrying over negative aspects of your day. Our brains fear change, and rightfully so: change is a scary thing, especially when change is influenced by something you’re already viewing as a negative event. So, how can we overcome this fear and work to gain a more positive outlook on life?
First, start appreciating the positive. Recognize every green light you make. Appreciate things that you consider mundane, like getting to work on time, remembering your keys, or having a full tank of gas.
Work on being grateful to yourself, too: after all, you managed to make it through the day having remembered your keys or gotten gas.
With that in mind, you have to accept the negative aspects of your day, too. They’re going to happen, so forgive yourself and move on. Don’t stress over negative scenarios, especially ones that you can’t control.
Chances are, your brain is jumping to conclusions and overreacting. The situation will resolve itself soon.
By recognizing all of the tiny, positive things that happen in your life, you’ll soon feel more satisfied with your daily routine. You’ll be less impacted by negative circumstances and will remember each day with genuine fondness.
This can also help to lower stress levels and provide a healthier way of dealing with life problems.
Just because our brains overreact to negative situations doesn’t mean you have to. Take a deep breath, appreciate everything positive going on in your life, and don’t let it leave a bad impression on your day.
Stay calm and continue as normal. Another positive experience is coming your way.