You might not believe me at first but I swear it’s the truth….
We’re infinitely more likely to succeed in life than to fail.
When you really think about it, much more goes right than wrong. Even on your worst day ever.
This doesn’t feel true because—in a totally protective and adaptive way—we’re inclined to notice and exaggerate negativity. For example, in a sea of faces we’re wired to notice the angry faces faster and more easily than the happy faces.
This inclination might seem pessimistic, but it makes sense when your life depends on avoiding angry people that might kill you.
And while we’re focusing on the relatively few things that go wrong in life, we’re totally taking for granted everything that goes right.
Like that you woke up this morning
And that the sun was up, or it was on its way up
And that your limbs and internal organs most likely worked
And that you probably had clean, running water with no effort on your part
This is just a fraction of what effortlessly and automatically went right, within just the first few minutes of your day. Nothing was required of you. You didn’t have to do anything or figure anything out; the sun and your organs and the water just worked for you.
So isn’t it funny that when something goes “wrong”, like the train is late or the coffee gets cold or even something more important like getting, we perseverate and grossly overemphasize how likely and common it is?
One thing I like to do to bypass this perceptual error is to imagine I’m someone much less fortunate looking in on my life. Or even someone not from this world, like an alien who doesn’t get that you can turn the faucet and get clean water.
Someone who wouldn’t take things like working limbs and running water for granted.
How would they perceive the good/bad balance in your life? When you pay attention and marvel at all the miracles, how do you perceive it?
Look away…is your problem still there?
Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.
Thanks Sheila! Have fun with that list–it’ll be a long one!
Amy – so true! You’ve motivated me to make a list of things I take for granted every day and add them to my gratitude journal. Another awesome post, Dr. Amy!
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