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  • Writer's pictureDezerrae Sanchez

Exploring the Power of Perspective: Negative and Positive Experiences

sun setting and shimmering across the ocean like positive thoughts working to reduce anxiety and depressive thoughts

The weekend is almost here. I hope the week has been kind, and the weekend holds something you are looking forward to experiences. I wanted to drop a bit of information about the differences between our how we process and hold on to experiences when they are negative as compared to how we process those positive experiences.

As humans, we are wired to pay more attention to negative experiences than positive ones. This is because our brains have evolved to prioritize survival over pleasure. When we encounter something negative or potentially dangerous, our brain sends an alarm signal that triggers our fight-or-flight response, preparing us to respond to the threat. This heightened state of arousal makes it easier to remember negative experiences in more detail than positive ones.

This phenomenon is commonly known as the "negativity bias," and it has been extensively studied in psychology. In fact, studies have shown that we need at least three positive experiences to counteract the effects of a single negative one. This is why customer service representatives are trained to provide a positive experience, as it can help to offset any negative experiences that a customer may have had in the past.

One reason why good experiences are noticed less than bad experiences is that they tend to be less memorable. When things go smoothly and according to plan, there is little for our brains to process and remember. In contrast, when something goes wrong or unexpected, it creates a strong emotional response that sticks in our memory. This is why people tend to remember negative experiences with a company or product more vividly than positive experiences.

Another reason why bad experiences are noticed more than good ones is that they are often more vocalized. When people have a negative experience, they are more likely to tell others about it. This is because we are wired to seek out social support in times of distress. When we share our negative experiences with others, it helps us to process and cope with the situation. On the other hand, when we have a positive experience, we may tell a few people, but we are less likely to share it widely. This is because positive experiences are expected, and we don't feel the need to seek out social support in the same way.

Moreover, bad experiences tend to have a stronger emotional impact than good ones. Negative experiences can cause anger, frustration, and sadness, while positive experiences usually result in contentment or satisfaction. Negative emotions are more intense and tend to stick with us longer than positive emotions. This is why negative experiences can have a more significant impact on our perception of a company or product than positive experiences.

Another factor that contributes to why good experiences are noticed less than bad experiences is our perception of fairness. Humans have a strong sense of justice and fairness, and when we perceive that something is unfair or unjust, it can create a negative emotional response. This is why negative experiences, such as receiving poor customer service or being overcharged for a product, can create a sense of injustice that sticks with us. In contrast, when we receive good customer service or a fair price for a product, it is expected, and we don't feel the same sense of emotional response.

Finally, our memory is subject to bias, and we tend to remember events in a way that confirms our beliefs and expectations. If we expect a negative experience, we are more likely to remember negative aspects of an event and overlook positive ones. This is known as confirmation bias and can contribute to the perception that bad experiences are more common than good ones.

How can we help this phenomenon?

We look for the glimmers. The concept of glimmers is that recognizing small, positive moments over and over can begin to shape our system. This shift to acknowledging the bright side can have a beneficial impact on our mind and health.

  1. Be present: To notice the glimmers in the day, you need to be fully present and aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to your senses and what is happening around you.

  2. Look for beauty: Beauty can be found in many things, whether it's the colors of a sunset, the shapes of the clouds, or the smile of a stranger. Look for beauty in everything you see.

  3. Focus on the positive: Try to focus on the positive aspects of your day, even if it's just a small thing. Maybe you got a compliment from a coworker, or you had a delicious cup of coffee in the morning.

  4. Practice gratitude: Make a habit of expressing gratitude for the things you have in your life. This can be as simple as saying thank you for your health, your home, or your family.

  5. Take a break: Sometimes, you need to take a break from your daily routine to notice the glimmers in the day. Take a walk outside, read a book, or listen to your favorite music. These moments can help you appreciate the beauty of life.

  6. Spend time with others: Pay attention to moments of joy or connection with others, even if they are brief. These moments can be a glimmer of hope or happiness in an otherwise challenging day.

  7. Appreciate your growth: Take note of small progress in your work or personal goals, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Celebrating even small accomplishments can give you a glimmer of hope and motivation to keep going.

Remember, the glimmers in the day are often small and fleeting, so it's important to be present and aware of them when they happen. By practicing mindfulness and gratitude, you can train your mind to notice these moments and appreciate them fully.

If you reflect on your day, what are some glimmers that may have been present but unnoticed?


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