Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher and Franciscan Priest who recently spoke about a meeting he had with a Neuropsychologist who was at a conference he was leading. The Neuropsychologist told Rohr that the latest studies on the brain revealed an interesting fact regarding how the brain responds to negative and positive thoughts. He said negative thoughts stick in the brain like velcro, while positive thoughts slip out of the brain as if they were teflon. This is called the negativity bias.
That new finding resonated with me. I can experience positive things all day long, and tomorrow I can’t remember any of them. Then, let one negative thing happen, and I can give you all the details about it weeks from now.
Is there any way to reverse the brain’s natural tendency to hang on to the negative and quickly release the positive? Rohr said contemplation is the only thing that makes the positive stick. When you encounter something lovely like a beautiful sunset, a kind word or gesture offered, or a baby’s laugh, focus on it. Think deeply about it for at least 15 seconds. When you do that, it changes everything. The brain will hold on to those positive thoughts you have focussed on and they will lodge in your brain. This becomes a good counter balance to the velcro response to negative stimuli. You will be much healthier with the positive thoughts filling your mind.
How we think affects how we live. Focussing on the positive is a huge part of living a big life.