Did you know —truly know and realize— that positive and negative is a one or the other occurrence, and not a both at the same time?
I am a very trusting reader. I will accept much of what an author says without needing proof. Foolish? I don’t think so; I believe that the mana’o of a writer (mana’o is their deeply held beliefs and convictions) has enough connected experience to trump facts a good deal of the time.
Then again, it’s pretty sweet to know how much our biology has its own special wisdom. As I can remember, this knowledge came to me when I read First, Break All the Rules, in which authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman speak of how the brain grows (the discussion beginning on page 80 if you have the book). They explain how from the day we are born, our child’s mind "begins to reach out, aggressively, exuberantly." They say that during the first fifteen years of our lives our brain cells make connections called synapses, and in "the carving of these synaptic connections is where the drama unfolds." It is this drama that will determine our innate gifts and talents.
I’ve never been as inclined toward science, and normally I’ll zip through those parts of a book that lay out the research done to add to a theory’s credibility, but that time I did, fascinated by the whole discussion.
So this quote, found more recently in the pages of a magazine, filled me with a kind of comfort too: (the parentheses are mine) and the [brackets were in the quote itself.]
"Love (aloha) and appreciation (mahalo) are both positive emotions (and values!) And when you engage in either of them, or any other positive emotions, you cannot be simultaneously miserable. That’s because the brain is not wired to possess both a positive and a negative at the same time … In other words, you cannot be on two different streets at the same time … [If you are a habitually negative person], (choose your attitude, and) engage the lesser-used pathways of [the] brain so that eventually [you] might have more of a positive perspective on life."
—From What Happy Women Know: How New Findings in Positive Psychology Can Change Women’s Lives for the Better, by Dan Baker PhD and Cathy Greenberg PhD with Ina Yalof.
I remember the street metaphor in First, Break All the Rules too: They explain that during childhood our brains make a colossal amount of synaptic connections between cells, but eventually the brain will have to choose between them, strengthening some, and allowing weaker ones to wither away. They quote a Dr. Harry Chugani, professor of neurology at Wayne State University Medical School, likening this pruning system to a highway system:
"Roads with the most traffic get widened.
The ones that are rarely used fall into disrepair."
What does this tell us? We have a choice between being positive or negative, and our brain is wired to help us out! Quite cool.
Mental pruning for innate talent + highway widening for optimism and
enthusiasm. Now THAT is some sweet scientific sugar for living with
Maybe I can learn to love science after all…
We always have a choice between the positive and negative, and our workplaces can create an abundance of positive choices and a scarcity of negative ones. If most of the choices available to us are overwhelmingly positive they fill us with enthusiasm. We trust that more likely than not, a great result will follow, and we step forward with a great attitude.