Overcoming the Brain’s Negativity Bias and Hardwiring Happiness

I’m studying for my Psychology class and need an explanation.

Let’s pretend 100 notable things happen to you in a week. Perhaps, most of them are neutral (producing nonspecific feelings of contentment, maybe boredom). Some might be positive (producing confidence, sense of belonging, relaxation, happiness, even joy), and a few of them negative (producing anger, fear, disgust, or negative emotions). While 80 could have been neutral, 19 were positive, and 1 was negative – where do you find that your brain wants to spend it’s time?

Why is it that 80 things can be neutral, 19 positive, and 1 negative in a week – and it is difficult to focus on anything but that one negative thing? Have you ever wondered if the brain is “wired” to pay more attention to NEGATIVE experiences? Is it harder for the brain to pay attention to POSITIVE experiences? Does this change or shape our perception of the world in a negative way? Make us more or less resilient, cynical, optimistic, or creative? More or less prone to Depression? Anxiety?

It turns out – you might be onto something…..

For this “Get Off Your Computer” assignment you will be experimenting with your own brain’s Negativity Bias. First, you will do some preparation by watching the videos below. You will then get to know your own personal biases by doing a self-assessment of your Emotional Intelligence. Third, you will then perform an experiment in real life to try and alter your brain’s negativity bias, and see what happens. Last – you will complete a brief assessment and report on your experimental findings.

PREPARATION: Watch the following video, Dr. Rick Hansen detailing his work, on Hardwiring Happiness:

Then watch the following video, Dr. Alison Ledgerwood on her work, Getting Un-Stuck From Negative Thinking:

Element 1: Complete the Time 1 Self-Assessment ( How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? Click for more options How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? – Alternative Formats

WLEIS, and score it). Make some notes.

****Important note: the Likert Scale scores are actually 1-5 (not 1-7). It is scored the same, however. See attached document.

Element 2: Perform 2-3 Random Acts of Kindness. Use the embedded resources below to prepare yourself and acclimate to the parameters of this assignment. You will be either planning or spontaneously performing these acts, as part of Hanson’s “HAVE” component of his acronym. It is important to be prepared, and not to go too far off. Use the embedded resources to choose a good activity. If you want to plan something bigger, or different – please text, call, or email your instructor for approval. Identify your Hypothesis: What will I personally experience if I perform this act? Will I be able to alter my Negativity Bias?

Random Acts of Kindness List Click for more options Random Acts of Kindness List – Alternative Formats

Element 3: Complete the Installation Procedure as soon after the experience as possible using the embedded Random Acts of Kindness Field Notes. Note how you feel physically after the experience (Heart rate? Adrenaline? Body sensations, etc.), and note how you feel emotionally before, during and after the experience (you can use the embedded Mood Meter / Emotion Word Descriptors sheet to find additional ‘words’ for emotions). Note any observations of your environment, and ask yourself key questions to Absorb and Enrich it (telling your brain to lock it down in Long Term Storage). How is this experience NEW or Different? How is it relevant to me? My goals? My values? Who I would like to be as a person? It will be hard to focus, but be sure to spend about 20-30 seconds intentionally staying with the thoughts, physical, and emotional experiences produced to install them. Write some notes in the Field Notes templates provided; you’ll need these notes for later.

Random Acts of Kindness Field Notes Click for more options Random Acts of Kindness Field Notes – Alternative Formats

Element 4: Finally write a Self-Reflection 3 page maximum – Double Spaced (12 point, Times New Roman font), that includes:

A). A brief (1 paragraph) summary for each Random Act of Kindness you performed, why you chose them, and what the outcome of that act was (note: sometimes you won’t know, and it is ok to write that you don’t). Describe your Hypothesis of how you thought these acts might impact you physically and emotionally.

B). A brief (1 paragraph) summary of your physical, and emotional experiences before, during, and after each of these acts.

C). A brief 2-3 paragraph Self-Reflection about your interpretation of your experiences, and whether you were able to alter your brain’s Negativity Bias (how did you do and why?).

D). Based on your findings, answer the question: Is kindness a social norm? Discuss.

E). How are the negativity bias and kindness are related in this experiment (2-3 paragraphs).

Element 4: Relate your self-reflection to the information provided in your text (source 1) and at least 1 outside academic / scientific source (journal article, book, .gov, .edu, or .org website).

UPLOAD ALL: Your Emotional Intelligence Test and Scores, Your Field Notes, and your Paper.