Stop me if you’ve heard this one: You finally manage to schedule dinner with a group of friends that you never get to see. The food is delicious and the service great — even during an awkward moment when you order your meal and loudly mispronounce the dish. (Coq au vin is a cruel mistress.) The embarrassing exchange happens in less than 15 seconds, but when you think back on it a few days later, you still cringe.
What gives? Overall, the dinner was fantastic and your faux pas was a momentary blip. Why does the one small part of a highly enjoyable, two-hour event get prime billing in your memory reel?
The spell of negative thinking
This all-too-familiar phenomenon is called the “negativity bias” and it’s pretty much universal. Our brains are hardwired to prioritize bad, difficult, or painful thoughts over positive ones.
Making matters worse, negative events quickly lodge themselves in our