It is a sad fact that it is easier to dwell on the negative than the positive. Two specific reasons for this come to mind. First, according to Professor Clifford Nass of Stanford University, this is because negative and positive information are processed in different hemispheres of the brain and negative information, apparently, gets more attention as it requires more thinking. It is, in fact, processed more thoroughly than positive information. Therefore, it is remembered longer and is more easily recalled. So, do not be too hard on yourself if you tend toward seeing the negative more often than the positive in life. However, there are strategies for overcoming this trait, and gratitude fits right into the plan.
A second reason we focus on the negative is due to signals we receive from the media around us. Advertising plays a huge role in our lives. The things of the world are constantly paraded before us: luxury cars, exotic vacations, gourmet foods, expensive clothing and perfumes, homes with every amenity we could dream of. It’s all presented in a way that leads us to believe that having these “things” will instantly make us happier, more successful, and more popular.
The Hebrew term for gratitude is hakarat hatov, which means, literally, “recognizing the good.” As we attempt to overcome the effects of our human physiology and the heavy role that advertising plays in our lives, gratitude will help to set our feet on a path to appreciation and happiness—and help us to train our brains to recognize the good and focus more attention on it. There are, literally, thousands of reasons to feel positive and to focus on what is good in our lives. As we do, our gratitude will soar. So, don’t accept that you were “just born that way” and can’t overcome the tendency to dwell on the negative. YOU CAN! Honing your sense of gratitude will help you every step of the way.