It takes a professional to sing the national anthem well. It has a wide range and a tricky melody that skips around a lot. It also takes nerves of steel to attempt it because if it isn’t sung in a very specific way the audience will revolt. Despite the thousands of perfect renditions that are sung every year, we only ever hear about the bad ones. In psychology, this is called a negativity bias. Which means that “Humans pay more attention to, remember better, more frequently recall, and get more aroused by negative rather than positive experiences.”
If a singer makes a mistake, misses an important note or lip-synchs it dominates our newsfeed. With social media and the 24-hour news cycle we are inundated with viral negativity. We spend more time talking about the one person who didn’t hit the right note and in the end we miss out on all the awesome renditions out there. All those amazingly brave singers who conquered the toughest song to sing are (pun intended) unsung heroes. No one cares about them. No one cares about all the incredible hard working singers who hit the nail on the head. It is as if we are all collectively rubbernecking, seeking more and more negativity to satisfy our morbid curiosity.
Melody Beattie writes, “All I could do was feel bad about what I saw. I didn’t see one thing, I could possibly be grateful for. Then I ran into a little paperback book that espoused the powers of praise. I read it, and I got an idea. I would put this gratitude thing to a deliberate test. I would take all the energy I had been using complaining, seeing the negative and feeling bad and I’d turn that energy around. I’d will, force, and if necessary fake, gratitude instead…When people suggest being grateful, it’s easy to think that means counting our blessings and just saying thank you for what’s good. When we learn how to practice gratitude, however, we learn to say thanks for everything in our lives, whether we feel grateful or not. That’s when we turn things around”
Whatever we focus on expands in our experience and you can choose to focus on mistakes or you can focus on the masterful and the well done.