Are We Biologically Built to Focus on the Negative?
An interesting reminder was recently shared on the Mental Health and Happiness website. The focus was on gratitude. Here’s how it read –
Many of our present day gurus, as well as almost all profound guides through the ages, tell us to count our blessings. Because our brain is designed to bombard us with all of the data about how our world is not matching up with what we want, we need to practice how to override this automatic function of our brain.
Life is filled with hard moments, disappointments and difficult challenges. At the same time life is filled with moments of joy, delight and awesome discoveries. Both abound in every day.
And since we are biologically built to focus on the negative we need to practice looking for and celebrating the positive.
The reminder to focus on thankfulness and gratitude is a good one. Absolutely no argument there! The part that is interesting to me, though, is the idea or belief that “we are biologically built to focus on the negative.” According to this view our brains are designed to provide “data about how our world is not matching up with what we want.” Therefore, thankfulness and gratitude are thinking processes in which we “override this automatic function of the brain.” This explanation gave me pause.
During this pause or time of reflection I have come up with a few summary statements –
+ I do believe that our brain is constantly monitoring the status of how what we HAVE compares with what we WANT. (Probably more accurate to say “what we think we HAVE compared with what we think we WANT.”)
+ As far as original design, I think God designed us for internal control, able to achieve harmony between our HAVES and WANTS.
+ Sin and rebellion entering the world hugely affected the ability of human beings to achieve harmony and balance between HAVES and WANTS. What was natural and even easy before now became a struggle.
+ Given this struggle I do believe it is necessary to “override” negative thinking and negative scripts that we practice and rehearse and instead choose to recognize the people, things, and areas in our life for which we can be thankful.
+ I think we were designed for love, belonging, freedom, and joy. I think we were designed for balance and the ability to match our HAVES and our WANTS (without keeping others from achieving their balance, too). I believe there is something deep within each of us that yearns to honor that original design, and that wants to learn to balance the HAVES and the WANTS, even in the midst of the frustration and pain of a sinful world.
What do you think about the idea that we are biologically built to focus on the negative?
I encourage you to check out Mental Health and Happiness at
Some of you will be interested to know that the Glasser biography, in its final version, went to the printer this past Tuesday, February 25. Supposedly, it should be available very soon, although the process has taken a bit longer than I anticipated at every step of the way. I will be providing more information on the biography and its availability as soon as I learn of the details.
CALENDAR CHANGE – Please note that our next Choice Theory Study Group has been changed to March 15 at 2:00 pm. (It was previously scheduled for March 8.)