Good or bad: What’s stickier?

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS “STICKIER”? THE “GOOD” OR THE “BAD”?

Studies have shown that people retain “bad” things said about them longer than “good” things. If shown photos of sweet, tender events and threatening or tragic events, folks will spend more time focusing on the threatening or tragic ones. A broad-based study of 558 emotion words in English found that 62% were negative and only 38% positive. What does this mean? Are we biologically inclined to notice with razor clarity what we might choose to frame as problematic, seeing (thus seeking) to highlight and linger with what we don’t want? Or, have we structured ourselves as fear-based creatures, always alert to avoid unhappy outcomes… as if we often see unhappiness as part of the outcomes?

Let’s start again with “sticky.” “Sticky” isn’t a happening outside of ourselves but a reflection of our own inner biases. We choose to remember what we remember, choose to forget what we forget. We highlight what we think is significant and avoid what we deem irrelevant. We created the categories of good and bad in order to take care of ourselves. However, we do it with a bias. We more often think, “Oh, my God!” “How terrible!” than we ever apply the embrace of “Oh, how wonderful!” “What an opportunity!” “Another adventure coming my way!”

Where to go from here?

Flip the frame. Start with everything in your life you view as bad (and really think about and remember the “sticky” bad stuff), and now put it in a good frame or an opportunity frame. Really? Yes, really. This is a grand experiment. We can also go back and see most everything in the “bad” and “awful” frame – because we can always go there, this experiment is not risky. Let’s pretend…like kids, that we can find a way to see the wonder and make whatever is happening the best of the best. Really? Absolutely. The biggest game in life is making beliefs – and if we have been making beliefs that leave us scared and isolated in a bad world, let’s dare to re-frame…alter those beliefs and make up new ones. Is it that simple? Yes, if we choose to make it simple. It’s hard if we make changing our beliefs or thoughts difficult. We get what we believe.

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