In addition to not knowing how serious negativity is, it is also not always easy to get away from it. What if the negative person is your best friend, your sibling or parent? By getting away from the negativity, you are also getting away from a loved one. Also, sometimes you have been a negative person and have decided to make a change. The problem with that is everyone around you will likely resist this new “positive” version of you, making it difficult to maintain your positivity.
Negativity is like second-hand smoke. It not only permeates the room but has dire health consequences for those unfortunate enough to be in its path.
According to neuroscientists, our brains are hardwired to focus more on the negative, including worry, disapproval, danger, illness, fear, and even the word, “no.” As we verbally express these thoughts, additional stress chemicals are released.
The listener’s brain is changed too, feeling more anxious and irritable. Trust and cooperation between people is undermined. In short, negativity can destroy family relationships and cause emotional harm.
The Power of YES
Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Prof. Mark Robert Waldman, authors of the book Words Can Change Your Brain, show how negativity and stress are related. For example, with just one flash of the word “no,” our brains release dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters that create havoc with our normal functioning.
Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneer in the positive psychology movement, discovered how positive thoughts affect the brain. In her book, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive, Fredrickson shows how to overcome our bias toward negativity by developing a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts.
When we achieve this balance, we are more likely to find ourselves in caring relationships and productive work situations.