How to Stop Letting Negativity Bias Hold You Back

What it is and How to Counter It.

When All Else Fails, Blame Evolution

A spoonful of tar can spoil a barrel of honey, but a spoonful of honey does nothing for a barrel of tar.” — Russian proverb

If I showed you a picture of a dinner plate, someone riding a roller coaster, and a mutilated face, which would invoke a stronger reaction? What about a picture of a guy pointing a gun at the camera?

Broaden Your Framing

“If we could be freed from our aversion to loss, our whole outlook on risk would change.” — Alan Hirsch

The great economist Paul Samuelson once asked a friend whether he would accept a coin-toss gamble in which he would lose $100 or win $200. His friend replied, “I won’t bet because I would feel the $100 loss more than the $200 gain. But I’ll take you on if you promise to let me make 100 such bets.”

Focus on the Good.

“Some people feel the rain; others just get wet.” — Roger Miller

When a negative event occurs, most peoples’ first impulse will be to minimize the risk — negativity bias at work. And in times of a pandemic or a major crisis, this is the right move. Don’t give death an in, it only needs to win once, remember?

“Finally: if you can say the word “good,” then guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing. And if you’re still breathing, that means you’ve still got some fight left in you. So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, re-engage — and go out on the attack.”

So say Good. Broaden your framing. And try to focus on your blessings as much as your disappointments.

Enemy of the Status Quo.

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