Okay, so you know how when you’ve just gotten a new car you start noticing that car everywhere? Or how if you’re expecting a baby, suddenly everyone (umm…every female of child-bearing years, not the elderly man down the street) is pregnant? Or how you’re thinking about a vacation to someplace fun and different like, say, Scotland and then you see ads for Scotland and your good friend’s cousin’s brother just got back from Scotland and your favorite travel site sends you various deals and one of them happens to be…oh, yes, you’ve guessed it…a trip to Scotland?
And you think…man! Look at that! I really should go to Scotland! It seems like destiny. Of course, you also might be thinking that you are driving the exact same car as everyone else around and why didn’t you have more creativity. And that there’s going to be a major population boom and your poor child will be in overcrowded classrooms.
But, anyway, how about a trip to Scotland!
So why is this, anyway? How come we notice something ALL over the place when we start thinking about it? There are some fancy terms that maybe kinda sorta explain the whole weird process. Observational Selection Bias. Confirmation Bias. Well…bleh. Who needs fancy terms? Okay, some of you. But as for me, I’ll just ‘splain it in energy terms.
When we devote our attention to something, we notice it more.
There aren’t really ten gazillion make/model/color identical cars zipping around your town. You have just brought your attention to the make/model/color that you really like and because of the centering of your attention you suddenly notice those characteristics more. And the pregnant thing? Think about the absolute immersion into that glorious experience. You talk about it. You read books. You place your hand on the incredibly precious and tender wee life that is growing and glowing inside your body…and I mean really, how cool is that? So naturally that becomes the absolute center of your attention. As for Scotland, if you had been thinking of a trip to Greece you might have pinged with awareness when a magazine you saw in the checkout line at the grocery store featured that particular country. Or you might have dashed into the family room when the episode of House Hunters International was set there. Or whatever. You get the idea.
Where am I going with this?
Well, I was skipping around the park this morning and absolutely reveling in the redbud and dogwood blooms that surrounded me. The more I looked, the more I saw. And then driving home from a personal training session with two very motivated ladies (who are rocking their exercises, I might add), I noticed more, more, and more of the gorgeous spring trees. Redbuds and dogwoods. Everywhere! Yippee!
It seemed like I couldn’t look in any direction without noticing them. Spring was out dancing and calling to me. Look here! And over here! Beauty is all around you, woman. Rejoice!
And it was easy. So…if it’s easy to notice a car or a pregnant woman or a trip destination or spring blooms, why shouldn’t it be as easy to notice other things? Like, maybe, kindness. Or courage. Or tiny tender bits of beauty found in a wildflower or one fine fat robin or a daddy playing with his son at the park.
Why shouldn’t it be as easy to notice the wonderfulness of those in our lives? Their goodness and kindness. The small things they do for us. The way they conduct themselves at work or at play. The very fine essence that surely is the basis of our love for them.
And yet…and yet…maybe we don’t notice these things. Or not much. And maybe the reason we don’t isn’t because these things are absent. Oh, no, not at all. It’s because we haven’t placed our concentration on them.
Because if we did concentrate on the lovely tidbits that make up our glorious environment, wouldn’t we notice them more and more? Wouldn’t we have to, based on the <insert fancy term> bias that causes us to see green sweaters on all kinds of people once we’ve just purchased one ourselves? Apparently the answer to that is yes.
So why don’t we?
Why don’t we take a good look at our significant other and instead of thinking about how he or she drops shoes all over the place and you are so beyond tired of tripping on them…and how he or she absolutely can’t seem to wipe up the lake that forms around the bathroom sink and so you always have to do it…and how he or she interrupts or forgets or doesn’t write things down or whatever whatever whatever…why don’t we just stop that. For a moment. Those things are not going to disappear, not actually. But for that moment, for many moments, why don’t we think about how he or she makes us coffee just the way we like it. Or places a loving hand on our neck and kisses us right on the head. Or how maybe the bathroom sink is a splashy lake but the laundry magically gets done.
You’ve got somebody in your life, a friend or a family member or a spouse or a significant other. You’ve got somebody. Take a moment and list…in your head…several things about them that make you smile. Then list several more. It doesn’t make the other stuff go away. But it changes your focus and suddenly there are even more happy items on the list.
This simple <fancy term> bias can be life changing. Not because of noticing cars or pregnant ladies or trip destinations, but because of what it can do for your relationships and for your own inner joy. Notice what you want to notice, direct your attention meaningfully. Mindfully. Get out there for a walk and look look look for little things that are precious or beautiful or simply nice. The more you look, the more you will see.
This isn’t woo woo stuff, people. It’s science, complete with fancy terms and studies that prove it happens.
Now, as for me…I’ll be off to the park this afternoon to test this theory in a new way. Based on what I’ve read and experienced, if I think about something, if I concentrate on it, I’ll notice it. Simply put, believing is seeing.
I’ve always wanted to see a unicorn.