Using 'What’s Going Well' to Battle the Spread of Negativity

Humanity on the whole has never been better off than we are now. The world is safer, we live longer, we are healthier, and many people are wealthier.

But as humans, our brains are naturally wired to cynicism. We’re more likely to focus on the negatives of a situation and not even notice the positives.

This negativity bias is an evolutionary holdover from back when we needed to be hyperaware of danger, when a rustling bush could mean a hiding predator and the end of our days.

The cycle then perpetuates thanks to what psychologists call confirmation bias, which is our tendency to filter our realities to confirm our preconceived notions. So if we take a pessimistic view and believe the world is dangerous and everything is falling apart, then our brains filter our experiences of reality to prove us right.

When we intentionally focus on ‘What’s Going Well’ instead, we bring our positive feelings and experiences into focus and minimize the hold negativity has on us
— Greg Bell

The 24-hour news cycle preys on this negativity bias. News organizations know they’re more likely to capture our attention with tales of woe, especially if that news is graphic. Thus the common saying in the news world: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Because of that, we think the world is doomed, and then the more negative news we see, the more our confirmation bias takes that information and uses it as further proof.

But in spite of that, we are, overall, happier—or we should be. We just can’t see that because we focus on what’s going wrong instead of What’s Going Well.

When we intentionally focus on What’s Going Well instead, we bring our positive feelings and experiences into focus and minimize the hold negativity has on us. A What’s Going Well mindset helps us see and tell more uplifting stories, which enhance our well-being and our general contentment in the world.

And when we radiate positivity in our own lives, we encourage those around us to focus more on What’s Going Well, too. Just by focusing on our own highlights, we can combat the spread of negativity in our social circles.

So be a force of good by continually asking yourself What’s Going Well and refusing to dwell on the negatives. Your positivity will be infectious!