Why reducing ANTS will make you happier!

The way we think about things is important in determining how we feel. Our thoughts are negatively biased as a possible protection against harm. Read on to find out if you are suffering from ANTS which can be harmful to our brain chemistry, and if so what you can do about it.

Why we have Automatic Negative Thinking Syndrome-ANTS 

Our thoughts are negatively biased as a projection against possible harm. Yet the brain can fool you into thinking that your negative thoughts are accurate and logical but they serve only to reinforce negative thinking and emotions.

What are ANTS?

Back in the 1960s Dr Aaron Beck was working with patients with depression and noticed that continuous streams of negative thoughts spontaneously arose.

He became convinced that automatic negative thoughts like “I never do anything right” or “I’m such a loser” affected overall happiness and mental health even causing his patients depression.

He noticed the negative thinking fell into three categories: negative ideas about themselves, the world, and the future.

He called these negative thoughts: Automatic Negative Thinking or ANTS.

Here are just 5 examples of ANTS -the way we think about things is important in determining how we feel.

(1) Overgeneralisation: Such thoughts often include the words “always” and “never”. 

E.g. I forgot to finish that project on time. I never do things right. He didn’t want to go out with me. I’ll always be lonely. 

(2) Filtering (Selective Abstraction)Concentrating on the negatives while ignoring the positives. 

E.g. I know he [my boss] said most of my submission was great but he also said there were several mistakes that had to be corrected…he must think I’m really hopeless.

(3) All or Nothing Thinking (Dichotomous Reasoning): A tendency to view things at the extremes with no middle ground. 

E.g. I made so many mistakes. If I can’t do it perfectly I might as well not bother. I won’t be able to get all of this done, so I may as well not start it. This job is so bad…there’s nothing good about it at all. 

(4) Personalising: Thinking that what people say or do is critical of you. 

E.g. John’s in a terrible mood. It must have been something I did. It’s obvious she doesn’t like me, otherwise she would’ve said hello. 

(5) Catastrophising: Overestimating the chances of disaster. 

E.g. I’m going to make a fool of myself and people will laugh at me. What if I haven’t turned the iron off and the house burns down.
If I don’t perform well, I’ll get the sack.

Leading cause of disability worldwide

ANTS can negatively impact brain chemistry and lead to depression.

Studies show depression is the most common, burdensome, and costly psychiatric disorder worldwide in adults.

In Australia the average annual cost per person using antidepressants can range from $1200-$2400

Alarmingly nearly 1 in 10 Australians take antidepressants and long term usage has become common.

Are there other solutions?


 ANTS a problem solved through meditation:

Meditation…Developing a consistent and continuous practice of mindfulness and meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day, will help eliminate excessive negative thinking.

Even those who don’t believe they can meditate because of incessant thoughts will find meditation is not difficult if you apply patience and persistence to the practice.

Meditation is “ANT RID” and it costs zero to practice.

Useful links

​More than Meditation Review Dr Daniel Lewis and Bill Patterson discussing the most recent course and insights from the event:

Bill Patterson explains some basic facts and myths about hypnosis on the Biohackers Lab podcast

Is Hypnosis Safe & Good For You? • Bill Patterson – BioHackers Lab

Here is Dr Daniel Lewis on How to Deal with Chronic Pain (Management Tips) • from Biohackers Lab:

Here is more from Dr Daniel Lewis Listen to the podcast on autoimmune disease and meditation:  LUPUS – Autoimmune disease spotlight with Dr Daniel Lewis

More than meditation

Join us to learn the art of meditating well at the The More Than Meditation Course

One night per week for 5 weeks and now in its 15thyear!