Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 18 Oct 2021 Why the bad stuff st ...

Why the bad stuff sticks

Published Oct 18, 2021, 11:18 pm IST
Updated Oct 18, 2021, 11:18 pm IST
Negativity has become almost the default mood for mankind. Why and how did this happen, and what can be done to change the situation?
Photo used for representation only
 Photo used for representation only

Consider these sets of news reports

Set one:


A sportsperson is alleged to be involved in match-fixing.

A well-known sportsperson opens an academy in his village to coach children free of cost.

Set two

The Coronavirus death toll mounts, shortage of oxygen; cremation space continues.

Cancer drug may show promise in covid treatment; trials on.

Third set:

A celebrity gets dragged into a drug scandal.

A film actor bags an international award.

In all the above three sets, the first news will attract public interest faster and people might read the full article. The second one will interest most people only up to the level of the headline or the first paragraph. It can be seen that the first articles in each set are all negative news, while the second ones belong to the category of positive news.


Mental health experts have observed that the human mind is wired more towards negativity. News of death, disease, man-made disasters, natural calamities, accidents, crimes, scandals, socio-economic slump, political cataclysm and war – all these find more readers, and are subjects of more debates and discussions than news of people winning recognition and acclaim, of successful scientific research, a surging economy or introduction of new infrastructure.

Asked about the reason behind this negative tilt of the human mind, criminal psychology expert Anuja Kapur says, “Right from childhood, whether at home or at school, we grow up hearing ‘No’ from parents, grandparents, teachers, elders, and so on. ‘Don’t go out’, ‘Don’t do this’, ‘Don’t do that’, ‘You can’t do it.’ This continues at college and into adulthood, at workplaces too. All forms of media start streaming and feeding negative news right from the morning each day. All this makes the human mind negatively conditioned and manifests as focus on the negative aspects of life. We are even made to believe that too much optimism or positivity is foolishness. People are filled with hatred, pessimism, stress and sadness.”


This focus on negativity can be traced to the concept of the survival of the fittest, for which the death of, or damage to something else is required, implying some negative initiatives.

Dr N N Raju, National President-elect of the Indian Psychiatric Society and professor and head of the Psychiatry department of the GVP Medical College, says, “Negativity exists in human psychology. It is the basic aggressive instinct in humans, who evolved from animals. The pre-frontal cortex or the extreme front part of the brain controls emotions and behaviour. It is also the seat of negative thoughts. When these negative thoughts get connected with the pleasure areas of the brain, negative emotions are stimulated, which are usually more dominant than the happy centres. That is why, when depressed, we cannot lift our mood by thinking positive thoughts; but on the other hand, negative feelings of stress and anxiety can disrupt our happy mood.”


How to overcome or deal with negative emotions and thoughts

Follow moral teachings and training while reminding of the consequences of letting negativity dominate the mind

Train the mind through meditation to reduce negativity and pessimism

Try to find positivity and believe that whatever happens is for the good

Before being judgmental of others, first introspect

Before reacting hastly, pause and reflect if it’s worth your time and energy

Consider people who are less privileged than you and list out things for which you should be grateful


Ask yourself if in reality the situation is negative or you are making it worse by over-thinking

 Learn, love and laugh, rather than spend life in hatred and sadness

Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad