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jaimal yogis, kyler vos, negativity bias

Jaimal Yogis examines how negativity bias impacts daily behavior and how to combat them in his Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness with Inspire Courses. Photo: Kyler Vos


The Inertia

Editor’s Note: Enroll in Jaimal Yogis’ Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness to learn more about combatting negativity boas and other mindfulness practices. The Inertia readers get a 10% discount with code INERTIA10.


There are a few ways mindfulness can enhance our ability to create the kind of waves in life we want to ride. One that I want to focus on is the habit of enhancing positivity and reversing negativity bias. If you look at studies, humans have a tendency to remember negative experiences and focus on them.

Even just to balance out and have a view of life as equal parts positive and negative, we need to sometimes untrain that negativity bias. That means turbocharging some of the things we’re not used to focusing on to survive: gratitude, love, the sweet taste of your cappuccino, how great that last wave was.

I think that’s at least one reason we surf, right? Surfing gets you into that place where you’re like, “Man, this is gorgeous.” You’re totally away from all the drama of the world and you can experience those moments of awe. This seems to come naturally to us with something like surfing.

But if you surf every day, you surf twice a day, sometimes that can go away. You’ll start saying things to yourself like, “I’m only happy if I get it perfect, I’m only happy if I land the air, I’m only happy if it’s not crowded.” Our minds can forget the positive and go back to the negative even when doing the things we love.

And so to train ourselves we can see reality for what it is: a balance of positive and negative always, a balance of pleasant and painful, a balance of challenging and ease. However you want to frame it, a lot of us have to untrain negativity bias.

How to Untrain Negativity Bias

When you’re feeling good, when you notice something beautiful, or when you remember a happy memory, you can be mindful of the fact that you’re doing something against the evolutionary stream of negativity bias and turbocharge that. Take a breath and enjoy it.

When you are remembering a positive experience, you’re actually going to that location of your brain and you’re associating it with this peaceful meditation that you’re about to do. Go to the place and in every detail you can recall, find yourself there.

How does it look?

What are you wearing?

How does it smell?

Who’s with you?

Relive this positive experience beat by beat.

Now, is that the real you, this memory? No. Ultimately it’s a construct like everything else. But it’s a construct that we need. We need to have a self that is confident and loving and skillful to operate in the world. That’s the beauty of being a mindful person in the world.

You can try this with any memory, any time. It just takes creating a quiet space, going back to it, and then celebrating it.

Editor’s Note: Enroll in Jaimal Yogis’ Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness to learn more about combatting negativity bias and other mindfulness practices. The Inertia readers get a 10% discount with code INERTIA10.

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