Positively Lose Negative Feelings

July 13, 2010 at 10:37 am 3 comments

You know what, Daddy?  Losing feels stronger than winning,”  my 12-year old son quipped as we were driving back after losing his last Little League baseball game of the season last week.  Taylor explained that the emotion he felt when they won last year’s American League championship was strong, but short lived.  But when they lost the next game in the tournament, it was strong and long lived (left him thinking about the mistakes made on the field with all the “what if’s”).

Well, this morning, as I was doing the dishes at our home (rare positive occasion, so I need to take note of it! 🙂 ), I was listening to an audiobook of Chip & Dan Heath’s new book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  It’s a fascinating read and they confirmed Taylor’s psychological musings:  (pp.46-47)

“Across the board, we seem wired to focus on the negative.  A group of psychologists reviewed over two hundred articles and concluded that, for a wide range of human behavior and perception, a general principle holds true:  ‘Bad is stronger than good.’

Exhibit A:  People who were shown photos of bad and good events spent longer viewing the bad ones.

Exhibit B: When people learn bad stuff about someone else, it’s stickier than good stuff.  People pay closer attention to the bad stuff, reflect on it more, remember it longer, and weigh it more heavily in assessing the person overall.  This pattern is so robust that researchers who study how we perceive one another have a label for it–‘positive-negative asymmetry.’

Bad is stronger than good.  As Leslie Fiedler once said, lots of novelists have achieved their fame by focusing on marital problems, but there’s never been a successful novel about a happy marriage.”  [Chip & Dan Heath, Switch, pp.46-47]

Now this is why yesterday’s Daily Devotion text is so important.  Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.”  Now, that’s good stuff to think about!

What are some of these good things that we can think about today? (Gracepoint Davis Church members, feel free to comment with your good thoughts)

Entry filed under: About Life, Leadership Lessons, Ministry Lessons, Parenting Lessons. Tags: , , , .

Proverbs for Parenting Gracepoint Church Yosemite!

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bryant Cheung  |  July 15, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Some of these good things that we can think about today include the commitments we made to God at the retreats this year, as well as our elevated and ennobling identity that God has given to us as Christians (1 Peter 2:9-10: Chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation, people belonging to God, Rom 8:15-17 co-heirs with Christ, God’s children, Eph 1: 7-8 Receivers of the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding)

  • 2. robolai  |  July 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Hi Pastor Jonathan,

    Thanks for the post and interesting read! That book Switch sounds intriguing. Research shows that for people who are depressed, thinking about previous fond memories help a lot. In the same way, I find that remembering fond memories with people I love (e.g. Sierra trips, various outings, doing DT together, birthday surprises, or simply hanging out) bring me great joy.


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About Joong “Jonathan” Lee

This weblog contains thoughts & reflections as I pastor Gracepoint Austin Church (previously at Gracepoint Davis and Berkeley Churches) and engage in various ministries.


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