Does everyone perceive the world the same way? In reality, you navigate life through your unique mental model of the world, a dynamic construct built over time.
This model is influenced by past experiences, beliefs, concepts, and the things you attend to. As you journey through life, every new experience can reshape this mental model. The empowering revelation? You have the power to intentionally influence this landscape.
Perception and the Science Behind Positive Focus
Have you ever felt disproportionately weighed down by a single negative comment or experience? Yet, upon reflection, you realized that your day was mostly filled with positive moments.
It’s interesting to note that our brain has an evolutionary predisposition to prioritize potential threats. While useful for our ancestors facing immediate dangers, this predisposition can be counterproductive today. A negative comment might sting, but should it dominate your focus?
By consciously directing your attention to positive experiences, they become integral parts of your mental model. Consider this: many events occur within 24 hours, but you can’t recall every detail. What remains? The events and emotions you deeply engage with.
Constantly dwelling on negatives can make them predominant in your worldview. However, emphasizing the positive shapes your mental representation more favorably.
Some might argue this creates a skewed perception of reality. But here’s the thing: your brain already has a bias towards the negative.
By spotlighting the positive, you’re not just fabricating a story but actively counterbalancing this inherent negative bias.
You’re ensuring that you recognize and value genuine positive occurrences, leading to a more accurate and balanced viewpoint.
Perception’s Role: How Your Brain Predicts Reality
Your brain is not a passive receptor. It anticipates upcoming events based on past experiences, creating expectations.
Imagine stepping onto a non-moving escalator. Even if you see it’s stationary, past experiences might make you feel like you’re about to fall. This is your brain’s predictive mechanism at work.
When our mental model is tainted with negativity, it influences our anticipations, often resulting in pessimistic responses.
By focusing on the positive, you feed your brain uplifting information, cultivating a balanced and optimistic worldview.
Journaling: Shaping Perception with Positive Reinforcement
Understanding this, how then can you actively mold your brain’s expectations? One effective method is through journaling.
In “How Emotions Are Made,” Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett highlights the significance of articulating experiences. While merely noting positive events helps, expressing them in writing solidifies their influence.
Words are powerful; they foster concepts in our minds. Journaling safeguards memories and amplifies their impact on your psyche.
Every journal entry is more than just a record; it’s an investment in your mental well-being.
As Dr. Barrett notes, “Every experience you construct is an investment. Invest wisely.”
Crafting Your Work-Life Perception through Reflective Practices:
Positive attention and journaling aren’t solely therapeutic tools for personal introspection. They are pivotal in reshaping your professional perceptions.
By physically writing down positive professional experiences, you not only create a tangible record but also enhance emotional well-being and crystallize those moments in your mind, allowing for clearer reflection and intentionality.
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, authors of “Designing Your New Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness–and a New Freedom–at Work,” have underscored the transformative power of reflective writing practices such as the “Good Work Journal” and the “7th Day Reflection.”
Good Work Journal:
At the close of each workday, take a moment to write down:
- What did I learn today?
- What did I initiate?
- Who did I help?
This act of writing isn’t just about cataloging achievements; it serves as an active method to recognize, affirm, and amplify your professional purpose.
7th Day Reflection:
Every week, set aside about ten minutes to review and write down two to four highlights from the past six days. Capture moments of gratitude, achievements, or significant interactions.
By engaging in this act of writing, you’re not merely reminiscing but actively strategizing future work paths based on meaningful experiences.
In essence, these reflective writing exercises serve as compasses, guiding you towards professional growth and purpose, ensuring your work aligns seamlessly with your values and aspirations.
You can shape your mental world. Directing attention to positive experiences and chronicling them crafts a more balanced and joyful perception.
Your perception of the world isn’t solely determined by the events around you, but by where you choose to direct your focus. So, start journaling, appreciate the positive, and reshape your mental landscape!