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The One Psychological Brain Tool That Can Create A More Positive Mindset, According To A Psychologist

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woman smiles gratefully in the sun

Our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes shape our perception of the world and influence our experiences. While this may cause some to have an inherently negative perception of life, there’s an effective psychological brain tool that can help you perceive the world through a more positive lens. 

A brain training specialist took to TikTok to share one psychological brain trick that transformed her life.

Emilie Leyes, a hypnosis practitioner and podcast host of “How To Like Your Life,” posted a video on TikTok to share the one brain tool she incorporated into her life that helped her “stop [her] brain from thinking so negatively all the time” and adopt a more positive mindset.

Leyes explained how the human brain struggles with negativity bias, meaning we tend to focus more heavily on the impact of negative experiences rather than positive ones.

   

   

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“That used to support us back in early human evolution, but it just doesn't anymore. It keeps us from enjoying the good things that do actually happen to us,” Leyes said.

Developed by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and best-selling author, we can rewire our minds to perceive the world with more optimism using a tool called installation, a mindfulness practice that encourages awareness and gratitude for all the positive things in our lives.

“It’s all about noticing the positive experiences that we actually have in our lives that normally pass us by because of this negativity bias, but then deliberately keeping your attention on it, and growing and amplifying the emotional experiences that you’re having within that good thing so that it can actually change your brain and have an impact on you,” Leyes expressed.

Leyes explained there are three steps to learning how to appreciate the good in your life:

1. Notice the positive experiences throughout your day

Pay attention to the little joys that surround you in your day. Not every day will be a great one, but there is always something to be grateful for. These positive experiences could be noticing a dog riding in a car with his head out the window, hearing a funny story from a co-worker, discovering a new song that you love, or simply going for a walk outside.

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2. Stay with the experience

Similarly to how we tend to let negative experiences affect our days, absorb the positive experiences instead! Allow yourself to sit with this positive encounter to intensify its impact.

“Turn up the volume on the good feelings that you’re experiencing,” Leyes suggested.

According to a webinar session with Dr. Hanson and Ruth Buczynski, Ph.D., “It takes around 30 seconds for an experience to really register in the brain, body, and mind, enough to have a lasting impact.”

3. Set an intention to allow this experience to make your day

After practicing the mindfulness of the first two steps, let yourself feel grateful for the positive experiences that left a mark on you. Let these experiences change you and lift your spirits. 

Remember the smile you made seeing the joy of a furry friend having the time of his life on a car ride, hold on to the laughter you exchanged with your colleague, and let the powerful notes and lyrics of that great new song replay in your mind.

Life is hard enough on us— we don’t need to add to our stress by ignoring the daily positive experiences of our lives because the negative ones seem to hold more weight.

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There are other ways to reverse negativity bias and live a life rich in gratitude.

Katerina Barrata, a licensed associate counselor, shared some good news on TikTok about the reality of negativity bias. In her video, Barrata explained how research developed by Laura Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, shows that negativity bias actually “declines, and even reverses, in old age.” 

Additionally, you can train your mind to convert your inherently negative perspective to a positive one by simply “[contemplating] your own mortality.”

   

   

This method, also known as maranasati meditation in Buddhism, essentially conveys the impermanence of our lives and enforces the virtue of being present.

Buddhists have practiced this meditation technique for thousands of years to “deepen their appreciation and gratitude for their precious human life.”

By recognizing the transience of our lives, we can learn to cultivate gratitude for every day we’re alive and get to experience the little joys and pleasures that are indubitably not so little.

You decide how much power your daily experiences hold over you.

The truth is, the obstacles and challenges that frequently cross our paths are inevitable, but we get to choose how these experiences affect us. Life is too short to spend worrying about all the problems we face throughout our lives. 

It’s important to understand this perspective doesn’t suggest avoiding or ignoring our problems, rather it offers useful tools to help us rise above our challenges and focus our attention on what truly matters — love, gratitude, and hope.

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Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, and spirituality topics.