Q: Last year was so full of bad news and negativity. I’ve been in a negative place for so long that I have a hard time feeling optimistic, even when there’s promising news on the horizon, like the coronavirus vaccine. Do you have advice on how to stay positive right now?
A: It’s natural that we’ve settled into a mode of negativity, given all the suffering and uncertainty we’ve experienced in 2020. So please don’t judge yourself for acknowledging the scale of the challenges we’re facing — it’s so important to do that.
At the same time, we have the power to override our brain’s negative bias and avoid letting negative thoughts become cumulative and overpowering.
By using reframing techniques, you can train your brain to temporarily overcome its negative bias and focus on the positive. It’s neuroplasticity in action: building new pathways in the brain through commitment and practice — a gentle challenge to see yourself and the world in a different, better light. It’s one of our superpowers as human beings — and one we really need to summon in challenging times like these.
Here’s a powerful Microstep to try to help you reframe:
During a negative, stressful moment, close your eyes and think of a person, place, or activity that brings you calm. If you’re feeling stressed and burned out, visualizing something positive can help reactivate the reward centers in your brain.