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A psychologist explains the best way to rewire your brain to let go of negative thoughts

You already know that positive thinking leads to a more fulfilling life.

That much is clear.

But how can you actually think positive when your mind is consistently stuck on the negative?

And how can you do it naturally…without using medication or alcohol?

Well…that’s exactly what Alison Ledgerwood talks about in this TEDx talk today.

As a professional people watcher (social psychologist) Alison Ledgerwood always wondered why the human mind swayed to the negative.

She even noticed it herself when she was publishing papers. When her paper got rejected, it still weighed on her mind, even after a different paper was accepted.


What’s going on here? Why does the failure seem to stick in our mind so much longer than a success?

Watch the brilliant talk below to find out why as well as the best strategy to deal with it:

For those of you who don’t have time to watch the talk, here is it in text:

We all know intuitively that there are different ways of thinking about things. The same glass, the saying goes, can be seen half full or half empty.

Much research has shown that depending on how you describe the glass to people, it changes how you feel about it.

But have you wondered what happens when you try to switch from thinking about it one way to thinking about it another way? Can we shift back and forth? Or do we get stuck on a particular label?

To investigate this question, Alison Ledgerwood conducted a few simple experiments.

One of the experiments involved telling participants about a new surgical procedure.

The first group of participants were told about the surgical procedure in terms of gains (70% success rate), while the other group were told in terms of losses (30% failure rate).

Unsurprisingly, the gains group liked the procedure a lot more.

However, after this the first group were then told that there is a 30% failure rate, and they immediately didn’t like it.


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But when the second group were told that there is a 70% success rate, they still didn’t like the procedure. They were stuck in the initial lost frame.

According to Alison Ledgerwood , these studies show that our view of the world has a fundamental tendency to tilt towards the negative thoughts.

It’s pretty easy to go from good to bad but far harder to shift from bad to good.

We literally have to work harder to see the upside of things. It takes effort but you can train your mind to do this better.

There is research out of U.C Davis showing that just writing for a few minutes each day about things that you’re grateful for can dramatically boost your happiness and wellbeing.


We can also rehearse good news and share it with others. It’s no secret that a lot of us complain. It’s like we’re addicted to it, but when we’re talking to others we tend to forget about sharing the good things.

But that’s exactly what our mind needs to practice. It’s about intentionally reshaping the stories in our mind to be more positive.

In other words, start a gratitude journal and talk about your joys!

We also need to think about this from other people’s perspective. We need to be aware that the bad tends to stick. One mean comment can stick with somebody all day or all week. Somebody snaps at you and you snap back and you snap at the next guy too.

But what if the next time somebody snapped at you, you forgave them? What if the next time you had a really grumpy waitress, you left her an extra large tip? Who knows the ripple effect you can create with one small act of kindness

We can retrain our minds to become more positive, more forgiving, and more thankful for the beautiful opportunity that life is.

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NOW WATCH: These 9 different hugs reveal what your relationship is really like

NOW READ: Forget “positive thinking”. Here’s a mindful technique that will rewire your brain to let go of negative thoughts


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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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