Negative Focus

If you ask me 2018 was a bad year personally. Things went… sub-optimally. There were some low periods. My car’s brakes died during that snow storm in March. I was lucky nothing happened there. My hard drive deleted so I had to redo an absurd amount of work for my Masters.  I got injured twice, I made some bad decisions, I didn’t get the promotion and I had to get eye surgery. The list goes on. Bad things happened. Bad things continue to happen.

That doesn’t necessarily mean 2018 was bad overall. It just means I’ve been focused on the negatives. 2018 had a lot of fucking excellent moments too. The issue is that the positive effect of good times doesn’t hit home as hard as the negative effect of the bad times. That’s actually common, if not normal, if not human. We all focus more on the negatives than the positives. It has an evolutionary advantage. For example, for our ancestors eating today was positive, but that positive wasn’t as severe as say, breaking a leg, because breaking a leg meant almost certain death. And so, you’d be more upset about breaking your leg than you would be happy about actually eating. Whereas eating meant you got to survive until tomorrow, breaking your leg more than likely meant you’d be dead, and that lasts forever.

So in terms of evolution and survival, it makes perfect sense to have a bias toward focusing on negatives. But today, where the threat of survival is minimal, negative focus only serves to affect your mental health and esteem and confidence. It also forces you to reduce the significance of important achievements and milestones. This year I graduated from a Masters which is nuts, but it was very anti-climactic personally, because I was consumed by all the things that hadn’t come up Milhouse for me. That’s kind of messed up.

So if you ask me now, 2018 was absolutely fine. It had it’s ups and downs, just like every other year. Going forward, I guess I’m gonna try and notice when I’m leaning towards focusing on the negatives and make myself stop. The people I admire most are the ones who seem the least resentful, or self-pitying, and that can’t be a coincidence.

Closing thought: if you’re one of these people that says shit like “2019 is gonna be my year” you are a completely intolerable loser and you need to re-evaluate things.



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