Published on: 10 August 2017

Research has shown that our emotional responses are biased towards correcting our mistakes, rather than recognising what went well. In fact, evolution has conditioned us to remember failures more readily than successes and for us to analyse bad events more thoroughly than good. This ‘negativity bias’ is part of our hard wiring and it is difficult to ignore its influence on our behaviours and attitudes.

The work of Seligman and Fredrickson examined the affirming affect on our emotional and physical wellbeing when we look to engage more fully with our positive emotions like love, joy, hope and awe. Linking with these emotions has been shown to makes us more optimistic and open minded while also improving physical wellbeing through the reduction of negative (stress) hormones and the increase in positive (bond-related hormones). The challenge for us all is to recognise the negativity bias and to accentuate the positive. It has been said that it takes five constructive comments or actions to counter-act a destructive one.

“A positive mindset, despite the challenges that we may face, affords us all a greater opportunity for physical and emotional success. It is a matter of finding the moments of gratitude and grace in every moment – they are always there,” says Liam Casson, Director of The Wynne Centre for Boys’ Health and Wellbeing.

“I encourage our school community to try and ‘catch the moments of positivity’ that exist each day. We have so much to be grateful for and should take the time to find those moments and, equally as importantly, take the time to thank those who make the moments special for us. By resisting the negativity bias we not only enrich our own wellbeing, we might just give the person we thank a lift that helps improve their outlook as well.”

For parents interested, parenting and wellbeing courses being facilitated by Relationships Australia this September can be viewed here.