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Count Your Blessings

In a world full of chaos, it's all to easy to get  pulled down by the events around us. Wars, scandals, cheating, natural disasters, greed, deception, lies, murder, theft... the list goes on and on.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to combat all that negativity is to consciously acknowledge the positivity around you. There's a concept called the "negativity bias" that  suggests we have an inherent inclination to focus on the negatives. We worry and stress about the negatives, while sadly brushing past the positives.

It's human nature and perhaps an inborn protective feature that leads us to be more attuned to negative events. For example, if you're walking down a city street and a man two blocks ahead of you is wielding a knife, while another man equally far away is helping a blind woman cross the street, which man will you focus your eyes on?!

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Cartoon image of sheep jumping over a fence
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This is why over the course of your day when both good and bad things  happen, you may feel like you only remember the bad. You then end up feeling like it was a bad day even if an equal number of good and bad things happened. This negativity bias is also used by news broadcasters. Wanting to get your attention and to increase their ratings, they emphasize negative stories, compelling your to watch. You may not hear many positive and encouraging stories on the news, but they are out there. Click here for a small sample.

So what can we do? Psychological studies have taught that we can successfully combat negative moods by actively reminding ourselves about the good in the world. When you hear a negative story on  the news or something disappointing happens at work, remind yourself of something good.

When you have a free moment, summarize and list in your mind all of the good  things that have happened to you today; no matter how small they may be. Look back upon your day or week and list all of the things you've accomplished. Make an effort to seek out positive news stories.

You  can also remind yourself of all the blessings in your life. If you're still alive, you have something to be grateful for. Do you have all your  limbs? Can you breathe on your own? Do you have a place to live? Do you  have food to eat today? If you're reading this, odds are pretty good that you have a computer, phone, tablet, etc.

It may seem silly at first to think of little things like having shoes or a pillow to sleep on as a blessing, but there are far too many people in the world that lack these things we take for granted every day. These are blessings. These are treasures that we ought to appreciate. Plus by doing so, we help to combat the negativity that may otherwise bring us down.

The same psychological research mentioned earlier suggests that for every negative piece of information we take in that we need to take in four pieces of positive information in order to keep a healthy "balance". That's the power of the negativity bias. But when you really give it some thought, you should have no problem coming up with a list of positives that far outnumbers the negatives.

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