See the best, dismiss the rest.

My 4-year-old daughter has a boy in her class, she doesn’t like. According to her, he just isn’t very nice. When she talks about him, you would think she’s an angel and he’s a demon in the flesh. The other day, I said to her that he must have positive aspects too; I had noticed he had beautiful eyes, she disagreed. It is then, that I introduced the dark glasses and the pink glasses.

No matter how right we think we are, we are all biased. And although, we do have some bias toward the positive, our main bias is toward the negative. Most of the time, we’re wearing our dark glasses. Our brains are actually wired to see anything that is off, the negative aspects of people, things and circumstances. It’s an evolutionary trait. Our ancestors were the ones that reacted to every potential threat. The ones who did not, didn’t survive long enough to pass on their genes. Nowadays, in our relative safe lives, our brains are still focused on finding anything negative and our overreactive amygdalas still signal fight or flight at the slightest sign of danger, imaginary or real, releasing adrenaline too easily and too often. But where we used to use up that adrenaline in real fight or flight situations, now this stress hormone runs through our bodies for a prolonged period of time, widening our negative neural pathways, making it easier for us to think negative thoughts, repeat negative events in our mind and worry about all the things that may go wrong.

Wearing pink glasses, however, is much more conducive to leading a healthy and happy life. People with a bias toward the positive seem to meet chance more often and are considered lucky by others. Lucky? I don’t think so! People who wear pink glasses have a tendency to see the best in people and situations, they focus on solutions, see opportunities and seize them, because they believe things will work out fine. And they mysteriously almost always do. 

The good news is that we can train our brain to look for positive aspects. Even better news is that as we find more and more of them, our positive neural pathways widen and our negative neural pathways shrink, making it continuously easier to see good things happening to us and trusting they will.

Some useful tips to switch glasses. Acknowledge that you don’t know the whole story. Be willing to give others the benefit of the doubt when they behave in ways that are different than you believe you would, if you were in their shoes. Look for things to appreciate about the person that is bugging you and the situation you don’t like, and express them. Don’t take yourself too seriously, smile! Or better, laugh, especially when you find yourself looking through dark glasses. And most of all, be gentle to yourself. Don’t hit yourself over the head when you don’t meet your own expectations. Appreciate yourself for who you are. Notice the best and dismiss the rest.

As for my daughter, she’s unwilling to put on her pink glasses when it comes to that boy. But I’m proud that she gets the concept and trust that, in time, she will prefer her pink glasses over her dark ones.