3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on Overcoming Negativity
Reward Prediction Error, Tragic Optimism & the Four Qualities of Happiness
I. Reward Prediction Error
Imagine you anticipate being rewarded for something you do, but the reward you actually receive is much less. You’ve committed a reward prediction error. Here’s neuroscientist Andrew Huberman on how to use this knowledge to your advantage when it comes to reacting to negative comments:
Understand “reward prediction error” & you will never reply to a negative comment again. Negative comments open a dopamine anticipation loop (in the commenter). Respond and the circuit closes; they get rewarded. Don’t respond & their dopamine will eventually drop below baseline.
II. Tragic Optimism
If you think “Just stay positive!” is a toxic piece of advice in times of hardship, you may want to try Tragic Optimism instead. Cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman explains:
The antidote to toxic positivity is “tragic optimism,” a phrase coined by the existential-humanistic psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. Tragic optimism involves the search for meaning amid the inevitable tragedies of human existence, something far more practical and realistic during these trying times. Researchers who study “post-traumatic growth” have found that people can grow in many ways from difficult times — including having a greater appreciation of one’s life and relationships, as well as increased compassion, altruism, purpose, utilization of personal strengths, spiritual development, and creativity.
—Scott Barry Kaufman, The Opposite of Toxic Positivity
III. The Four Qualities of Happiness
Speaking of spirituality. According to late Zen monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, there are four qualities of happiness: peace, clarity, compassion and courage. He explains how to overcome negativity and find happiness:
The practice of harmonizing body and mind brings more peace, clarity, compassion, and courage into our daily lives. With these four qualities, we can have enough happiness to be able to help ourselves.
People tend to think of happiness in terms of having plenty of fame, power, wealth, and sensual pleasures. But we know that craving these objects can bring a lot of suffering. So we need to have a very different understanding of happiness. If we cultivate peace in ourselves, then clarity, compassion, and courage will come.
If you don’t have compassion, you can’t be a happy person. A person without compassion is someone who’s utterly alone, who can’t truly get in touch with another living being. With enough compassion you have the courage to liberate yourself and help liberate other people. That’s true happiness, the kind of happiness that every one of us needs.
—Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace of Mind
Have a great week,
P.S.: Check out my latest post on The Language of Film: 10 Ways Movies Secretly Communicate With Us