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The alarm bell of your brain — the amygdala (you’ve got two of these little almond-shaped regions, one on either side of your head) — uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news: it’s primed to go negative.

Once it sounds the alarm, negative events and experiences get quickly stored in memory — in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.

(And, to be sure, also be mindful of any tendency you might have toward rose-colored glasses or putting that ostrich head in the sand.) Additionally, be mindful of the forces around you that beat the drum of alarm — whether it’s a family member who threatens emotional punishment, or in the well-known example, a National Security Advisor (Condoleezza Rice) who warned in 2002 that the smoking gun of evidence for WMDs in Iraq could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

Consider for yourself whether their alarms are valid — or whether they are exaggerated or empty, while downplaying or missing the larger context of opportunities and resources.

Ask yourself what these forces could be getting out of beating that scary drum.

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