Humans are hardwired for survival, not happiness. To survive, we have a negativity bias of the brain. Where there’s good and bad, we notice the bad, as it can endanger our emotional, psychological or even physical survival.

What we’re unaware of tends to control us. This means we need to become aware of when this bias is hijacking us and keeping us in our comfort zone, since all growth takes place outsides the comfort zone and humans have an innate need to grow. When growth is stifled, we suffer emotionally, psychologically and even physically.

To free ourselves from this negativity bias, we need to intercept the thought – emotion – behaviour cycle.

When we think something, it makes us feel something. This feeling will lead to an action.

Most humans believe every thought they have is true, but there are many thinking traps.

Moreover, every time you repeat a thought, you are strengthening the neural pathways, so the thought becomes more REAL. This is good for empowering thoughts, but bad for disempowering ones.

Top Tips

1. Create a distance from yourself and your thought by saying out loud:

“Right now I’m having the thought that…..” Ask yourself, is this thought going to take me closer, or further away, from the person I want to be?”

When you learn to challenge your negative thoughts, your feelings and actions will become more empowered…

This is not about banning negative thoughts and emotions. What we repress grows stronger, so freedom comes when we put words to something, make sense of it and can move on from it.

2. Try keeping a journal to notice patterns.

As you keep the journal, remember that the more precise you can be – the more accurately you can label the EXACT emotion – the more likely you can identify the source of what is causing it, address it, and find a solution and/ or peace.

Once we have addressed the negative, it’s time to cultivate the positive.

Positive Psychology – the science of optimal human functioning – has found there are five things we need to thrive personally and professionally

We need positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning & accomplishment. If we get there five, we become more resilient.

Positive emotions make us more open, more creative and more collaborative. Our peripheral vision literally and metaphorically expands. Positive emotions are connected to better health and greater longevity.

3. Gratitude journal.

Look for 3 good things each day. Research shows that after two weeks, you can go from the 15th to the 50th percentile of wellbeing.

Engagement means finding the right kind of challenge to meet your skill set, so that the task is neither too easy nor too difficult. In this state of flow, you will lose all self-consciousness and worry. It will be satisfying, and you will constantly upskill. This is where people do their best work.

Relationships are the greatest predictor to our wellbeing. The greatest predictor to the quality and longevity is something called Active Constructive Responding.

4.  When someone shares some good news, your ability to show genuine warmth, curiosity and encouragement will significantly enhance the relationship.

Ask open questions to prolong this moment and let a person revel in their good news. Most people are bad at this.

Meaning is about entwining your strengths, talents and passions to give back to others and make a positive difference. People perceive their work to be meaningful when they use their top character strengths.

5. Take the VIA Signature Strengths Survey. It is free. 

You can do this alone or with colleagues. Find a way to use your top five strengths more to perceive greater meaning to what you do. In teams, you can give feedback with these strengths and reframe weaknesses as strengths that are being over/ underplayed.

A sense of accomplishment is essential to all humans. we need to set and achieve meaningful goals. A sense of personal and professional growth is key. In order to grow, we need a personal and professional vision to move towards.

6. Do Laura King’s Best Possible Future Self exercise (free).

From this vision, you can define 2- 3 tangible goals. Remember, Jordan Peterson says we’re only ever competing against our old self. Focus on progress, not goal completion. Hedonic adaptation means we get used to everting very quickly. No goal completion will keep us satisfied for very long.

If we manage to get a good level of PERMA, we will become more resilient. To stay resilient, we need to keep a Growth Mindset. Two types of mindsets – fixed or growth. The Growth Mindset understand ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’. Every time we say, do, or think something, it becomes easier and more automatic. We can always learn new skills and enhance existing ones. This is neuroplasticity.

7. Use the Growth Mindset questions to stay resilient and fail ‘forward’ 

Finally, remember…as Dr. Joe Dispenza says, “We are either defined by a vision of the future of the memories of the past”. by the time people are 35, 90 percent of their habits are based on the thoughts and feelings of the past. If your life is perfect, then don’t change anything. If you’d like greater success and wellbeing, it might be time to begin to create a future vision based around PERMA and begin to think new thoughts, feel new feelings and take inspired action to a more fabulous future!

Written by Lisa Avery, The positive Psychologist

If you want to hear more from Lisa Avery, she will be our after dinner speaker at our next event The SHE Show South, Tuesday 11th July 2023, DoubleTree by Hilton, MK Dons Stadium, Milton Keynes.

(Please note the Networking Evening Dinner where Lisa will be speaking will take place the evening prior to the event – Monday 10th July 2023)


Lisa Avery, The Positive Psychologist

Lisa is a positive psychologist, coach and speaker, who uses the science of optimal human functioning in a vast array of settings. Her past projects have involved the design and/ or delivery of interventions to clients in Education, Government, the NHS, Charities, and the Corporate World. She holds a master’s degree in Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology and prides herself on captivating her audience through candid self-expression, exuberant passion, and buoyant energy. Her ultimate mission is to enlighten, enliven and empower humans to exponential levels of happiness, meaning and success. She does this by breaking down the research, catalysing conversations and helping individuals come up with creative ways to positive change.

Please note, the views expressed by the original article author are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of Washingtondowling Associates Ltd or The SHE Show and therefore we take no responsibility for the content or accuracy of this post.