Why The Mind is Negative Focused

Are you constantly focusing on the negative aspect of life? What could be the reason for this? Nick and Dr. Katharina Stenger discuss why the mind is negatively focused, and how ikigai can help overcome this.

Nick: So what you touched on before reminded me of something I've read, or it's a quote, and I'm wondering if it's true, because I do like to fact check things. But I think for the human brain or human mind,  for every one positive thing in our life, we'll identify three negative things. There's like a ratio of three to one or four to one, that our brain will focus on far more negative things than positive. Is that true?

Rina: I am not so sure about the ratios or the numbers, it's probably a statistical thing. It's very general, I could say. But it is true that we are focusing or that we are more aware of the negative things that are happening around us rather than the positive things because you have to see, if there is nothing negative going on, your brain really has nothing to do. There's nothing to be aware of if something is positive, right? 

But if there's something negative going on, something that is potential danger, your brain is like on high alert, and all the signals are happening and you will shift your attention towards the negative thing and you will have like a negative lens or yeah, like a bigger lens for the negative things because your brain is making you pay attention to that. So it's.. Yeah, your brain means well, but it's not very practical to focus on negative things all the time. I mean it was supposed to be to help us survive, of course, in like the Stone Age. But right now, it's not a very good mechanism, especially with all the bad news going around. But that's why we like bad news so much, right? It's our brains like, "Oh, yeah, bad news! Let's focus on that!"

Nick: So yeah, I was gonna say, it seems we're hardwired for negativity for survival, which I guess was relevant hundreds of thousands of years ago. But now, it doesn't seem to benefit us greatly if we're focusing on all this negativity, all these potential negative outcomes. And I think that's where ikigai can help us.

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