When we reflect on our day, it’s often negative events that stick in our minds—the undone tasks, mistakes, or criticisms—because the human brain has a negativity bias. When I first heard this, I felt relief: Phew, it’s not just me! A negativity bias is baked into us through evolution.
A quick glance at the news tells us what’s wrong with the world: political wars, violent acts, and natural disasters. These are not to be ignored. We live in a complicated world and to make a difference we must face hard truths. But if we focus solely on what's wrong, we become scared, frustrated, and hopeless.
When I volunteer in prison, it includes both group and individual sessions. The pastorals are rich, meaningful, and sometimes difficult. The stories I hear—real stories from real people—are heartbreaking. I try to be a mirror for the inmates. I let them know where they’ve grown and changed and how their meditation practice inspires me.