Last week we spoke about the fact that we live in an attention economy where our attention is the greatest commodity we own. Building on this notion further, we’d like to suggest that since we have a choice about where we spend our attention, we can all actively choose to expend it on areas that will ultimately be of benefit to us. For instance, the positive aspects in a situation. Bear with us here…

We know that our brain harbours an innate negativity bias (which makes it particularly sensitive to dangers, losses, and conflicts), that initially evolved in order to increase our chances of survival in the wild. We also know that our brain is still programmed to respond to these negative experiences by shutting off the outside world and narrowing in on the danger at large and the limited options around us that favour instant physical survival.

Well, research now dictates that just as conversely, positive emotions (such as joy, amusement, happiness, serenity, gratitude and inspiration) actually expand our peripheral vision which in turn enhances our ability to take in more of our surroundings, connect the dots and appreciate the bigger picture. Further still, the “broaden and build” theory (posited by social psychologist Professor Fredrickson) suggests that because these positive emotions broaden our sense of possibilities and open our minds, we are then able to build new skills and develop resources that can provide value for us in other areas of our life. Pretty cool, huh?

The question is how do we initiate these positive emotions? Well the same professor and her colleagues have evidence to show that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions that those who do not. And as expected, subjects from the studies who meditated, also built valuable long–term skills. For those of you who don’t meditate as often as you would like, feel free to reserve an armchair for a session now 🙂

Interestingly though, Professor Fredrickson suggests that just having a positive mindset can help to produce similar positive emotions. So, by shifting your attention in any given moment to the positive aspect in the situation at play (of which you can always find something), you will assist in cultivating a more positive mindset which then increases your chances of the flow on desired effects you are after…