John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister wrote an essay for the Wall Street Journal titled For the New Year, Say No to Negativity. Tierney and Baumeister are authors of The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It.

« negativity bias, it’s the universal tendency for bad events and emotions to affect us more strongly than positive ones. »

« Because negative events had stronger effects, these phenomena were easier to distinguish and measure than positive ones, so psychology journals and textbooks had devoted more than twice as much space to analyzing problems than to identifying sources of happiness and well-being. The research was further distorted when it reached the public, because it was filtered through journalists eager for news with the most immediate impact—which, of course, meant bad news.  »

« Post-traumatic stress disorder became common knowledge but not the concept of post-traumatic growth, which is actually far more common. Most people who undergo trauma ultimately feel that the experience has made them a stronger and better person.  »

« Minimizing the negative is similarly crucial in business. Angry customers can have such a disproportionate impact… Research into the varieties of “bad apples” in the workplace has shown that the performance of a team depends not on the average of its members’ abilities but rather on the ability of the worst member. Several stars can’t compensate for a dud.  »

« Many studies—of spouses’ interactions, people’s diaries, workers’ moods, customers’ ratings—have shown that a negative event or emotion usually has at least three times the impact of a comparable positive one. So to come out ahead, we suggest keeping in mind the Rule of Four: It takes four good things to overcome one bad thing…   Keep that ratio in mind when considering the impact of your actions… Plan on at least four compliments to make up for one bit of criticism.  »

« The self-esteem movement—one of the sorrier mistakes in psychology—left many parents reluctant to criticize or penalize children, and the everybody-gets-a-trophy philosophy has produced rampant grade inflation in high school and college. Students routinely get As and Bs for mediocre or poor work, so they’re learning less than in the past. No one likes getting—or handing out—bad grades, but these force the students to focus on what needs to be improved.  »

« Capitalize on the good moments—and then relive them… Psychologists call it capitalization and have found that sharing good news is one of the most effective ways to become happier—but only if the other person responds enthusiastically, so make sure you rejoice in your friend’s good fortune (or at least fake it). »

«  By rationally looking at long-term trends instead of viscerally reacting to the horror story of the day, you’ll see that there’s much more to celebrate than to mourn. »

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