When something goes wrong at work, it’s normal to take that negative experience and hold onto it for the rest of the day — or maybe even for the whole week. That tendency is a product of how our brains are wired, and it exposes us to extra, unneeded stress. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Although it can be difficult, it’s possible to reframe our negative experiences, let go of negativity, and focus on the good. Here are three strategies that will help you train your mind to focus more on the positive.
First strategy: practice “gain framing”. According to Alison Ledgerwood, a social psychologist at UC Davis, the way in which you recall your own experiences can alter the way you see them. When you describe the glass as half-full, that’s what Ledgerwood calls a ‘gain frame,’ because you are focusing on what’s been gained. On the flip side, seeing the glass as half-empty is a ‘loss frame’. By using gain framing to describe your experiences to others, you will start to see the positives in any given situation.
Second strategy: acknowledges one good thing. While it’s easy to assume that venting will help get rid of your negative emotions, dwelling instead on one good thing that happened that day can prompt your brain to switch directions — which is ultimately more helpful. For optimal practice, Ledgerwood suggests taking pen to paper — even if it feels difficult at the moment.
Third strategy: respond counterintuitively. Basically, the way we react at the moment can make a significant difference in how we think about a situation later. Instead of snapping at someone who has ticked you off, trying forgiving them. If your waitress at a cafe is super grumpy, leave a nice tip anyway. By responding counterintuitively, what you’re doing is stopping your brain from the cycle of dwelling on the negative, and instead, spreading the positive to others.