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Richard J. Davidson

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9 Ways To Stop Being Negative

Posted: 03/ 9/2012 10:02 am

I was always fascinated by variations among people in how they respond to emotional events in their environment. This strikes me as the most important characteristic of emotion--we are all different. The unique emotional fingerprint we all have is what I call Emotional Style.

The Emotional Life of Your Brain [Hudson Street Press, $25.95] is about how and why people differ in their response to life's slings and arrows. Some people are resilient and recover quickly from adversity; others recover much more slowly. Some are able to savor and maintain positive emotion so they have a positive, optimistic outlook on life; others, not so much. Some people have excellent access to what their body is telling them about their own emotions (racing heart = fear or excitement, for instance), while others are less sensitive to such bodily cues. These are some of the differences in Emotional Style that I describe in my book.

Each Emotional Style emerges directly from more than 30 years of research on the neuroscience of emotion and, in particular, studies that have pinpointed the patterns of brain activity underlying each. They are not obvious styles such as personality types, though they can explain personality differences such as introversion/extraversion.

The latest neuroscience shows that while these styles are consistent over time they can be changed: we can change our brains by transforming our minds and behavior. Specific mental exercises, when practiced systematically over time, can lead to enduring changes in the structure and function of our brains and, as a result, alter different facets of our Emotional Style.
Nine ways to stop being so negative:

#1
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Write down one positive characteristic of yourself and one positive characteristic of someone you regularly interact with. Do this three times a day. Ideally, you'll write down a different trait each time, but if you're stuck on how "helpful" your office colleague is, that's okay.
Write down one positive characteristic of yourself and one positive characteristic of someone you regularly interact with. Do this three times a day. Ideally, you'll write down a different trait each time, but if you're stuck on how "helpful" your office colleague is, that's okay.
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