Alonzo Weston

It’s scientific fact that our brains have a natural tendency to see the worst in everything. But expecting the worst may have kept us alive for centuries.

Maybe it’s a leftover defense mechanism from our caveman days when sabertooths and mastodons lurked around every corner.

It’s OK to be optimistic but wise to prepare for the worst. The mindset of preparing for the worst has enabled us to develop much-needed vaccines for polio, smallpox and other diseases as well plan for natural disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes.

But expecting and seeing the worst in things can have bad consequences as well. It can rob us of our joy and contentment, for one thing. For example, one bad thing can ruin your whole day even if your day had been full of good or non-bad things.

A misuse of opioid painkillers has lawmakers passing hasty legislation, making it harder to prescribe painkillers for fear of their misuse. This neglects the thousands of people who could benefit from said drugs.

Now we have Friday the 13th coming up in the midst of international coronavirus fears.

There’s stressed emphasis now on handwashing and other personal hygiene safety measures as a result. These are hygiene exercises we should be practicing anyway in the flu and cold season.

Friday the 13th never scared me. I was born on a Thursday the 12th, so the 13th was one more day of life for me. I’ve always looked at it as my lucky day.

However, for years I lived with superstitious fears. I was raised in a household were superstition held court with religion.

I still struggle with some superstitions, like placing a hat on a bed, but have slowly realized that it’s unreasonable fears that I don’t need to impose on myself.

I bring all this up because of a new book on the market “The Power of Bad (And How to Overcome It)” by John Tierney and Roy E. Baumeister.

The goal of the book is to get us to compensate for our brain’s natural reaction to seeing the worst in everything.

The authors argue the negativity virus is everywhere — even when you don’t expect to find it.

Some of the book’s major findings include being in a bad mood can actually improve your memory, indulging nostalgia in a cold room can actually warm you up and being a good-enough parent or teacher is all you need to be — just don’t be a bad one.

Look at a life-changing injury not as a disability but as an opportunity to start out on a new path.

I look at rainy days not as being a deterrent to being outside enjoying sunshine but as an opportunity for solitude and to read a good book or watch a movie without the guilt of having to complete yard chores in better weather.

We can expect the worst of coronavirus, compare it to the Bubonic plague if you must, but we’ve conquered other viruses by using safe hygiene measures and good science.

We are a stronger smarter species than we give ourselves credit for.

Alonzo Weston can be reached


Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.