Do you lie awake at night ruminating over all the mistakes you’ve made and will make? Worrying about all your faults and how many times you’ve failed in the past and will fail in the future? No. Well lucky you. But if you've answered “yes”, then welcome to the club. Because this is a very common experience, one with which many of us can easily relate to.
And there’s a good reason for this; according to evolutionary psychologists it has been, in our distant past, of value and benefit to focus on dangers and risks. It’s the people who worried about these things that took necessary precautions and ultimately, survived. On the other hand, those who didn’t worry about what might go wrong tended to be more likely to approach danger and dangerous situations that were potentially or quite literally lethal.
Accordingly, thinking about what can go wrong is not entirely wrong. At the same time, however, if that’s all we do, or if we get too caught up in what can become a vicious cycle of negativity, we can fall prey to anxiety and depression and other emotions that are not really conducive to living a healthy and happy life.
So, what’s the alternative?
Well, quite simply, spend as much time as is realistically possible focusing on what might go right! I say as much as is possible because this shouldn’t be an “either or” situation. What we know about the happiest and most successful people is that they do consider what could go wrong, and they manage risk accordingly, but they also find motivation and inspiration by thinking about positive and desirable goals; or what would it be like if things were all good?
At least part of the reason this works is that we see more of what we focus on. Just like when you’re pregnant and you see more pregnant women; or when you buy a certain type of car and all of a sudden, you see the same model and colour car everywhere; so too, then, do we see positive outcomes when we focus more on positive outcomes.
And because we experience more positive emotions when we think like this, we’re also more likely to experience more inspiration and to have move energy. Thus, we’re also far more likely to engage in positive and constructive behaviours which then bring about the aforementioned positive outcomes.
In short, then, if you think about things going right, you’re more likely to see opportunities to make things right and you’re also more likely to do what’s needed to make things right and so ultimately, more will go right. And when more is going right in your life you’ll find, instead of the vicious, negative, downward spiral to which I referred earlier you’ll be motivated and driven on by a more positive, self-reinforcing upward spiral of positivity.
Doing all of this is not, thankfully, all that hard. Because things really do go right a lot of the time. It’s just that we don’t notice them, or we take them for granted. Obviously, things will go wrong from time to time and when they do, we need to address them in whatever way we can; but appreciating and savouring and celebrating what’s good in our lives provides, as I hope I’ve explained, many significant benefits.