How to Change the Default Negative Thinking in our Minds?
Living life through the lens of glass is half-full.
Whenever we see an incident that is not what we expect or what we have in mind, we are quick to draw conclusions, especially negative conclusions or even worst-case scenarios.
For instance, if you bumped into your girlfriend or boyfriend who was having dinner with the opposite sex, whom did not inform you earlier, your automatic response might be s/he was cheating on you. When in fact, s/he was just having dinner with a normal friend and chose not to tell you in case you might misunderstand.
Or when your long-distance relationship partner cannot reply your texts earlier due to time differences and the fact that s/he might be busy, you may automatically assume that maybe s/he is having an affair and doesn’t care about you. When in fact s/he just went to bed earlier than usual and did not check the phone.
Or if a person walked into the shop and the salesgirl did not seem to be too friendly or chatty. You might accuse the salesgirl for being rude and thinking she might think you don’t have money. When in fact she might just had a terrible morning and argued with her boyfriend on the phone beforehand.
Or maybe you just went on a date with someone. You felt good but the other party did not contact you later. You probably automatically assume the other party is not interested. When in fact s/he may also be very shy to make the first move.
I can possibly list more than a thousand more similar incidences like the above that happen in our daily life…
Unlike our consciousness, our minds, if not well-trained, seem to have the natural tendency to feel scared, insecure, easily attached and our automatic responses are largely driven by fear…we are easily being caught up in the fight or flight mode, like animals when reacting to threats, that is the animal instinct. That is why our minds, when not well-trained are quick to draw negative conclusions easily.
When we fall into the traps of our minds and negative thinking, the consequences of that may be quite detrimental to our well-beings, relationships and other aspects in life.
If you delve deeper upon this topic, you might realize that our interpretations of reality are largely based on by our perceptions. Whether you think the glass is half-full or half-empty, you are both right.
The right or wrong answers in our minds actually depend on what perceptions you choose to believe. So why not choose to view this world with the lens of glass half-full?
Given that we only have limited time on earth (although I believe in reincarnation, but let’s just talk about this lifetime :)) and each and every moment of our life could potentially all be the last moment of our life, why not make each moment as joyous as possible? Why even bother creating more miseries for yourself in life?
So here is how to live life through ‘the glass is half-full’ lens:
1. Understand that there may be another side of the story
There is often always another side of the story in almost all the circumstances. If your loved one did not reply your texts earlier than usual, it could be s/he was busy in the middle of something. If your partner chooses not to disclose certain things to you, it could be she/he might worry that you might misunderstand.
Therefore, one should not draw conclusions too easily and too quickly according to one’s own perceptions and biases.
2. Offer a chance for explanation before drawing definite conclusions and listen patiently
This is especially important in relationships. That is when communications become crucial. If one partner feels the other partner’s behaviours may be inappropriate, instead of accusing straight away, one should probably offer the other party a chance for explanation, try to understand why the other party might have behaved in this way.
And we should all listen patiently and listen with ‘ears of tolerance and eyes of compassion’.
3. Choose to think positively — ‘glass is always half-full’
If explanations cannot be given, for instance, we may not even know the person. Then perhaps choose to think positively. After all, how does thinking negatively serve us in any beneficially way except ruining our mood, wasting our energy and precious moments in life.
So instead of assuming the absent-minded salesgirl being rude, perhaps choose to think that she probably had a rough day. And instead of assuming our partner is cheating on us, perhaps choose to think that s/he might be really busy with work or other matters thus could not reply our texts or whatever requests promptly.
After all, how we think is actually our choice. So try to believe the others’ explanations and believing that there are always other sides of the stories that we did not know.
4. Be understandable and be compassionate
We are all unique individuals with unique perspectives and ways of communications, sometimes deeply rooted in the culture we brought up with and conditions that have been imposed on us by society and others.
Some people may be very comfortable in straightforward confrontations whereas others may tend to withdraw from communicating outwardly in order to ‘mitigate problems’ (in their perspectives). Some people probably just cannot communicate verbally at all and prefer writing.
If we could all cultivate more compassion towards our own beings, and accepting that each of us is unique and if we could try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes more often, I’m sure there will be less miseries in the world and we could all live a much happier and fulfilled life.
May our lives be filled with love, understanding and compassion.