On Never Feeling Accomplished
Do you ever find yourself at the end of the workday with the feeling like you didn't do anything? In some cases, this may be somewhat true, but in most cases, this is our brain's negativity bias at play.
This negativity bias, or discounting the positive, is a part of the human brain. It is our survival advantage - our evolutionary price.
The problem is, the things that allow us to survive and procreate are not necessarily the things that allow us to thrive. Sure, the negativity bias is useful to acknowledge, yet the constant focus on what we did not accomplish or what we do not have can be counterproductive to motivation and the resilience needed to strive for important goals.
Therefore, we need to integrate systems and habits that allow us to re-balance our perceptions. I recently spoke with psychologist and author, Rick Hanson, who has a metaphor for this bias. He says that the brain is like velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good.
The bad sticks and the good bounces off in an instant.
One strategy that ensures the accounting in our brains supports our mental health is to ask yourself about the things that went well. We perpetually ask ourselves what went wrong, but we often forget to ask for the counter-evidence.
So before you start your Monday, ask yourself:
What did I accomplish last week?
This may seem counterintuitive as you feel the need to dive into your workload, but giving yourself a sense of accomplishment will increase resilience for the week. And frankly, it just feels good, and you deserve to feel good.