Episode 64: Velcro vs. Teflon

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“ We’re still hard-wired the same way: we pay more attention to the negative than to the positive. As the psychologist and brain researcher Dr. Rick Hanson explained to me during our interview, our brains are “Velcro for negativity and Teflon for positivity.” Our negative experiences stick to us like Velcro, while our positive experiences slide right off us like Teflon. In fact, researchers have found that it takes numerous positive experiences to overcome a single negative one! Unfortunately, this wiring turns out to be disastrous for our happiness.” ~ Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason

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“ We’re still hard-wired the same way: we pay more attention to the negative than to the positive. As the psychologist and brain researcher Dr. Rick Hanson explained to me during our interview, our brains are “Velcro for negativity and Teflon for positivity.” Our negative experiences stick to us like Velcro, while our positive experiences slide right off us like Teflon. In fact, researchers have found that it takes numerous positive experiences to overcome a single negative one! Unfortunately, this wiring turns out to be disastrous for our happiness.” ~ Marci Shimoff from Happy for No Reason

There’s a great section in the book on the fact that we’re descended from the “Nervous Nellies” and “Fearful Franks” of the tribe. The peeps who really paid attention to the threats in the environment were the ones who survived long enough to have kids who then had kids who then had us.

As a result, in short, we have a “negativity bias” such that negativity makes a greater impression on our brains and we have “hot amygdalas” such that if we’re not careful, we’re gonna have a *lot* more fight-or-flight adrenalin running through our system than we want!

How do we deal with that?

Again, it goes back to re-wiring. Marci says: “I’m not talking about wishful thinking, or simply deciding to be happier. That’s like pasting a smiley face over our pain or spreading a layer of icing over cake that’s burned to a cinder. The bad stuff is still there. What I’m talking about is accessing the higher center of your brain, your neocortex, to reverse the negativity bias and override your primitive alarm system.”

Brian Johnson,

Chief Philosopher

This is one of the 1,000+ Big Ideas we share in our 6-page PDF and 20-minute MP3 PhilosophersNotes on 100 of the greatest self-development books. Get 100 Notes for only 47 bucks!