Highlighting the work of social psychologist Roy Baumeister, Seppälä points out that our brain's "tendency to give more weight to the negative may have helped our species survive by highlighting potential dangers."
"However, in this day and age, our negativity bias, both as it relates to the environment and to our self-judgments, is harmful," she writes.
"When you reach your goal, you'll find that you're still not satisfied. Why? Because in addition to focusing on the negative, we also get used to the good things in our lives," she writes.
To shift to a more positive mindset and help you be more productive, Seppälä recommends replacing your belief in strengths with belief in your efforts and replacing self-criticism with self-compassion.
She further notes that neuroscientific data demonstrates that our brains continue to grow new neural pathways throughout life.
"The brain is designed for development and to learn new things," Seppälä writes. "While particular skills may come more easily, we are wired to engage, thrive and grow in any number of areas."
As the science director of Stanford's Center For Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Seppälä says she knows "self-compassion" can sound "soft" or "idealistic." However, she explains, "it allows you to be successful without sabotaging yourself."
To replace your self-criticism with self-compassion, Seppälä recommends three steps based off of University of Texas professor Kristin Neff's research: Be kind to yourself, understand that you are part of humanity and that everyone makes mistakes, and be mindful of your thoughts and feelings.
She uses Einstein and Ma as examples of a winning mindset.
When they each faced adversity and difficult situations, they did not allow themselves to feel defeated. Instead, they persisted and believed their efforts would pay off — a mindset encapsulated in this quote Seppälä credits to Einstein: "Failure is success in progress."
Seppälä says it was good that Einstein subscribed to this belief because when he was a child, he was "so slow in learning to speak and write that his family thought he might be mentally handicapped." He would later get expelled from school, failed to gain admittance to Zurich Polytechnic School and was the only one in his class who didn't land a teaching job at the end of university.
"Had Einstein believed in the strengths theory, he would have assumed that he did not have what it took to be a scientist," Seppälä says. "However, because he believed that his skills could develop, he did not let the failures stop him but went on to revolutionize physics, eventually winning a Nobel Prize."