We all know a “glass is half-empty” person, or maybe a few. If the glass is 50 percent filled with water, this person would not see the glass half-full, but rather as half-empty, and may examine the contents further and determine the water appears to be a tad cloudy, and perhaps a bit too warm or too cold. The “half-empty” person may even find the water has a funny smell to it, and, by the way, did you notice the rim of the glass has an ever-so-tiny chip? Then this same person might suggest drying the glass by hand with a dish towel next time and avoid using the dishwasher for glassware as a way to prevent some of those unsightly water spots…blah, blah, blah.
Do you know someone like this? Maybe that someone is you? It’s likely. The human brain is wired to be more pessimistic than optimistic (Alidina, 2015). This theory is called “negativity bias,” and this bias supported basic survival when humans were hunters and gatherers. Humans who were extra cautious had a constant eye for danger, and those who scrutinized situations shrewdly were more likely to survive. Researchers have found the human brain gravitates toward more stress and less well-being in three ways:
This ability to shrewdly scrutinize may be helpful as hunters and gatherers; however, it can be detrimental when overused—particularly when someone is continually scrutinizing him- or herself.
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