Have you ever heard of the headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry? It’s the psychological theory that says humans tend to focus more on the bothersome wind blowing in their face than the wind blowing behind their back, propelling them forwards.
Essentially, we tend to focus more on obstacles than advantages. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes a lot of sense. Of course we are going to dedicate more brain power to the obstacle in our way because we need to think of how best to overcome it.
Meanwhile, benefits or advantages can be enjoyed with little need for thought. So how do we stop focusing so much on the negative? Research by Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that people who wrote down things they were grateful for were more optimistic and felt better about their lives compared to a group who wrote down things that aggravated them and another that wrote things that affected them without emphasis on it being either positive or negative.
So is being grateful the secret to happiness? The only way to know for sure is to give it a go yourself! Think right now: What are you grateful for?
Reference: Emmons & McCulloughs research (2003)
Associate Consultant at Capgemini