A negative outlook can often make the world seem darker than it needs to be, which can lead to overall unhappiness. But why do humans tend to be naturally negative? You’ll find the answer here, along with some tips on how you can change your perspective and become more positive as well. It’s all about looking at the good things in life and focusing on them rather than constantly thinking about how bad things are or that something bad will happen in the future. So what makes humans negative?
The evolutionary origins of negative tendency
Our caveman brains were wired for negativity. For millions of years, humans evolved in a world that was much more dangerous than it is today. Most people didn’t live beyond their mid-twenties and diseases like cancer, heart disease, depression and schizophrenia didn’t exist. In other words, life was pretty simple back then—food was plentiful, predators were a constant threat and we lived in small groups in harmony with our surroundings. Today, however, life is much more complicated—we have 24/7 access to news stories about global conflict; toxic waste constantly infiltrates our bodies; we live in cities polluted by heavy traffic; and technology distracts us with never-ending updates.
Where do we get our negativity from today?
Today’s positivity movement has got it all wrong. For one, we’re hardwired for negativity. Second, positivity only encourages us to think about things that already go right in our lives. Third, and most importantly, what you focus on expands. The next time you find yourself feeling down on your luck, don’t try focusing on how negative you are; instead, be grateful for your negative traits and then move into a more positive state of mind by thinking about something that goes right in your life (big or small). This will bring back your natural sense of optimism and set you up for success.
Are humans actually more positive than other living beings?
As negative as we are, it’s important to remember that, compared with other living beings on Earth, humans are actually pretty positive. According to a 2007 study in Current Biology , most animals tend toward negativity: When they’re presented with a positive or negative stimulus (for example, an image of a cute puppy or one of a vicious dog), they react more strongly and for longer than humans do. It makes sense—in our evolutionary past, negative things like snakes and spiders were much more likely to kill us. Today, those threats still exist (albeit in reduced numbers), but so do plenty of good things.
How can we deal with being negative about the future?
Ever wonder why we humans tend to be negative? The reason lies in our evolutionary history and modern-day situations. Natural selection has equipped us with a negativity bias that keeps us safe and alive. When negative things are more likely, it makes sense for us to pay more attention to them. And when you consider that bad news is far more likely than good news (i.e., a lion probably won’t chase you on your way home from work, but it could), avoiding danger can save our lives and help ensure survival of our genes—and thus, we all have a negativity bias.
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How can you utilize negative tendency to progress in life?
Learn from Negative People: Everyone has his or her own way of dealing with a difficult situation. If you learn from people who see things differently than you do, your world will expand dramatically. Find an optimistic friend, relative or co-worker and ask them what they would do if they were in your situation right now.