We are evolutionary wired to give greater weight to negative experiences instead of positive ones. Neuropsychologists call this the Brain’s Negativity Bias and our ancestors are to blame for such a negative nature; here’s why.
From an evolutionary point of view, it was a way for our ancestors to be constantly on the alert for threats. This is what helped them survive. Much research has been done on this. An example is neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, University of California, Berkeley. Rick explains how our amygdala uses about two-thirds of its neurons to detect negativity and then quickly stores it in long-term memory. Picture this: two-thirds of your emotion and motivation regulator is designed to focus primarily on the negative.
Yet in today’s world, all of this negativity increases our stress levels, affects our happiness and quality of life, and makes it more difficult to be patient and generous with others.
Breaking this cycle is a matter of training our brain for positivity, in order to be more actively in tune with positive emotions such as joy, interest, pride, and love. Science claims that for a positive experience to enter our long-term memory, we must keep it in our field of attention for at least 10-20 seconds, if not, it disappears.
This helps to sensitize the amygdala to focus more on the good. The longer we are aware of it and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the stronger the memory trail will be!