Harness the Power of Positivity Bias Training to Be Happier

Positivity Bias

[Excerpted from You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type by Daniel G. Amen, MD]

You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and brain health expert Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, he reveals how to discover your brain type and tailor happiness strategies best suited to your brain type. This book also shows how to improve your overall brain health to consistently enhance your mood, protect your happiness by distancing yourself from the “noise” in your head, and make 7 simple decisions and ask 7 daily questions to boost your happiness.

I’ll never forget the morning of May 5, 2020, the day my father died. I was getting ready to leave the house when Mom called me on my cell. She was in a panic.

“He’s stopped breathing!” she cried out.

“Stay on the line. I’ll call 911!” I replied.

That was the start of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, which went by in a blur. That evening, after a long, emotional day of dealing with the mortuary and then watching my father’s body being taken away on a gurney, I showered and got ready for bed.

For the last three or four years, I had a ritual of putting myself to sleep by saying a prayer and then asking myself, What went well today? This was the bookend to how I started every day by saying to myself, as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, “Today is going to be a great day.” I had embraced these twin measures of positivity bias training because I had programmed my mind to look for what is right more than what is wrong. I want to focus on why it will be a great day each morning and what went well when my head hits the pillow. Training my brain to search for the good things that happened during the day was kind of like making my own highlight show. It’s my habit, ritual, and routine. It is what I do.

When it was time to fall asleep that night, I said a prayer, and then my mind went to What went well today? Then, all of sudden, my mind objected: Seriously, you are going to do that tonight, on the worst day of your life in 38 years? The worst day since you lost your grandfather in 1982? If you loved your father, isn’t that disrespectful?

Yet, because it was my habit, I thought about the dozens of texts I got that day from my friends and my father’s friends. Both he and I were loved. Even with the tragedy, I slept well that night because I had been training my mind for years.

In a world of negativity, it’s good to have positivity bias training. In my book, You, Happier, I introduce you to 9 positivity bias training exercises that can help eliminate or suck the energy our of bad moments and bad memories.

Positivity bias training exercises can help eliminate or suck the energy our of bad moments and bad memories. Click To Tweet

For example:

Start each morning by saying, “Today is going to be a great day.” As I’ve said, where you bring your attention determines how you feel. If you want to feel happier, start the day by directing your attention to what you are excited about, what you like, what you want, what you hope for, and what makes you happy, rather than the negative. I recommend families do it together as they are waking up their kids or at the breakfast table in the morning. I love this exercise so much that it’s at the top of my to-do list that I look at every day, just in case I miss saying it.

Another reason I recommend this practice is because it plants seeds of optimism into the soil of everyday life. Happy individuals look for the good that can come out of a situation, not what can go wrong. One of my favorite sayings is: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Optimists and pessimists approach problems differently. Optimists generally proceed with a positive outlook, while pessimists expect the sky to fall. Optimists know that things don’t always go their way, so when life knocks them down, they get back up and try again. A sense of optimism lifts the immune system, helps prevent chronic disease, and gives you a better chance of coping with bad news, such as when my father passed away.

In the book, you’ll find 8 more positivity bias training exercises that can help you be happier and overcome negative feelings.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already learned how to have a happier brain and a happier life at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.  

8 Comments »

  1. It is food (and drinks, if those are caffeinated drinks, alcoholic drinks, or fizzy, sweetened drinks) that potentially might make a significant difference to our health and well-being. If we feel much better, we think much better too.

    Sugar and refined, or processed foods are the ones to strictly limit. Caffeine affects some of us more than others. Alcohol is well known for having the ability to negatively (as well as positively) affect our moods and thinking, and our health. Sugar can be very negative for our weight, and health. So – dump the sugar and refined, processed foods, and rein in the stimulants!:}

    Comment by Alice — February 23, 2022 @ 4:08 AM

  2. In working with clients with a nasty inner critic it can be helpful to start with the premise that our brain on its own doesn’t distinguish between reality (now) and our narrative (past). When we use positive reframing we are not only training our thoughts…we are changing our emotional state. Perception is not fact based…it is a compilation of emotional responses and for many is connected to self defeating thoughts. If we pick one goal a day in terms of challenging bias in our thoughts its much easier to reflect on our progress at the end of the day. Looking forward to seeing the new book

    Comment by Heather Hamilton PhD — February 23, 2022 @ 5:36 AM

  3. I just wanted to thank you for all your hard work helping people. Keep up the great work.

    Comment by Steve Bell — February 23, 2022 @ 8:22 AM

  4. Sharing your own examples of brokenness, struggles, makes my heart-Welcome your strategies so Much More, than a Judge like Psychiatrist judging, telling us-ppl, what to do. I was Heart-broken, reading call re ur Dad; U r a good writer, cuz that helped me not only empathize, but also-Learn, how u handled that painful event. Ur Example (great writing), told me–Dr Amen’s thots even LIE to him, Gigantically. Ur thots told u, NOT to do good routines. U did NOT heed lies. I m SO grateful to u, helping me/us day after day. gratefully.

    Comment by teresa baumgartner — February 23, 2022 @ 9:13 AM

  5. I was having a down day when I read this. It reminded me of who I really am. I am a person who always looks for the best in people and situations. I am chronically Ill and know being positive makes life sunnier! Thanks Dr Amen…I love you!

    Comment by Barbara Johnspn — February 23, 2022 @ 12:41 PM

  6. I love your optimism and this training! I thank you for your books and being online to share these things with us for brain support and emotional well being support! You’re a blessing to me and us all!
    I wish I could is brain scan from you to see my brain. Maybe someday I hope 🤞

    Comment by Lori Steeves — February 23, 2022 @ 5:57 PM

  7. Thank you, Dr. Amen, for all of your efforts to change the way we address mental and physical health. Your willingness (and many of your patients’ willingness) to share personal experiences illustrates the profound impact that data-based good habits can create in our lives. I’ve learned it doesn’t take very long to establish many of the small habits you recommend, and they really do make a difference. I hope to share the message and help others as you have helped me. Wishing you continued success and happiness.

    Comment by Amanda Sleeper — February 25, 2022 @ 7:47 AM

  8. From the day you came to town with your first book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, I became a believer. And today continue on a regimen of Brain MD supplements to help me over those positively challenged rough patches. God bless and God speed, Dr. Amen!

    Comment by Kristin Grose — February 28, 2022 @ 12:30 AM

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