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Week 2- Rewiring the Negativity Bias

WISE Recap

  •  What is an unhappy brain? A brain that is scared and a brain that does not feel worthy. (Fear and self-doubt).
  • The mind is like velcro for negative and teflon for positive. Negative thoughts, experiences and events stick, whereas the positive pleasant ones tend to fall away.
  • Question your thoughts regularly. If you notice unhelpful thought patterns thank your mind, but then “say hello, let it go”.
  • This week our intention is to build positive emotion in the brain and train our mind to see the good (and help others to feel happier too). Joy and lasting happiness are experienced as a result of other deeper emotions such as gratitude, satisfaction, stillness, love, respect, connectedness, kindness, compassion and so on.
  • It may feel unnatural and uncomfortable to use positive self-talk but this will get easier as neural habits form. What we practice we get good at. “Neurons that fire together, wire together”.
  • We all need more kindness in our life, especially towards ourselves and others. Observe the inner narrative. At times it can be very harsh, forceful, bossy and unkind, particularly during moments of struggle or difficulty. We can rewire this and help others to be kinder to themselves too.
  • Be mindful that sometimes positive things in our world are just neutral (they don’t necessarily grab our attention).
  • We can pay attention to parts of our body or our breath that feel positive. This could be a part of your body without pain or stress, the rhythm of the breath, the breath breathing itself, a sensation of calm or warmth in the body etc.

The Negativity Bias

It can be said that the mind is like velco for the negative and teflon for the positive.  Negative experiences and events stick, whereas the positive experiences fall away.

The negativity bias is the minds tendency and ability to attend to, learn from and use negative information far more than positive information. Negative events elicit more rapid and more prominent responses than non-negative events.  This often explains why we respond more both emotionally and physically to unpleasant stimuli and why we dwell more on unpleasant events, than positive ones.

In the context of resilience and wellbeing the negativity bias impacts both in a negative way. When we focus on the difficult, adaptability and flexibility are impacted. We feel more weighed down, heavy. Our sense of joy, happiness and wellbeing is also dimmed and surpressed.

Mindfulness meditation supports the re-training of the mind to change its habits. Neuroscience tells us that we can use the plasticity of the mind to rebalance the negativity bias by training and directing our attention towards the positive events and feelings that we experience. In only 21 days of a daily gratitude practice we can build more positive emotion in the brain. This week is about re-wiring the brain to feel and experience more positive emotion.

As we continue practicing ‘mental reps’ for our brain by coming back to the breath and body whenever our mind wanders, we can start to pay attention to where our mind is wandering to. Opening up our awareness to moments of good, as well as pleasant sensations or feelings in our body is key here. This will help us to pay more attention to the good around us and within us. As we continue to develop qualities of a good heart such as kindness, compassion, connection, gratitude, honesty, authenticity and empathy this will also build more positive emotion in our brain.


INFORMAL PRACTICE- Gratitude Practice (Daily)

Each night this week please email your WISE facilitator with three things that went well for you in the day. This practice help us recode our memory and perception of the past (which sets us up for the future with more hope, positivity and joy).

FORMAL PRACTICE- Rewiring The Negativity Bias

Practice the Rewiring the Negativity Bias recording every day this week. In order to have the resilience to face difficulties we need to nuture the positive parts of ourselves and make a conscience effort to notice the positive. Paying attention to aspects of our day (and our body) that we might not usually notice or even appraise as pleasant can help us have a resource for more joy.

Week 2: Rewiring the Negativity Bias (6 mins)