Posts Tagged ‘selective attention’

Accentuate The Positive

Research demonstrates that we each pay attention to about 20, 000 things a day, and that the ratio of things that we pay attention to are way in favor of the negative. We are in fact hard wired to pay attention to the negative. In our cave dwelling days you had to be  hyper-vigilant about the saber tooth tiger sniffing around your abode and that attention to the negative was a life saver.
Now that the saber tooth tiger is gone and you are living in a home with wifi, you can relax and use another thing that we all have, selective attention. Selective attention is great, like when you are at a noisy cocktail party and Bill Gates wants to have a one to one chat. You can tune everyone else out. But, there is a hitch with that too. Selective attention combines with our tendency towards negative confirmation bias. It creates tunnel vision and often guides us towards seeing things through a negative lens so that we end up making things worse for ourselves.
Despite this, rest assured that you are not the victim of your attention. You can’t always control what attracts your attention. What you can do is to notice that you are paying attention to the negative and divert your attention to the positive. In this way you give yourself the option to take steps to pay attention to the positive.
What happens when you pay attention to the positive? You are more likely to build rather than burn relationships, deal with stressful life situations better, bounce back from adverse situations and set backs faster, and have a better immune system that resists illness. A study showed that people who were cut and guided towards paying attention to the positive healed faster than those who were not guided towards the positive.

So do some attention training and change your brain chemistry from  one of a cave dweller to a healthy resilient person paying attention to the positive. 

  • Look for the silver lining, it is always there.
  • Choose to see the positive in others, sometimes very challenging, but worth the pay off.
  • Develop a positive go-to image, like your child, the beach or a hole in one. When you are attending to the negative you can redirect your attention to your go-to image.

As you practice attention training it will take less effort and you will reap the benefits of accentuating the positive.  Remember, saber tooth tigers are only in cartoons.  

 

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”

Michael Jordan 


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