In one of the most famous experiments in psychology, volunteers watch a video of two basketball teams – one with white shirts, one with black shirts – passing a basketball around. As they watch, the volunteers have to count the number of times the white team plays the ball. About 25 seconds into the video, a person in a gorilla suit walks right through the action for five seconds.
Then the audience write down the number of passes and answer a number of additional questions, such as: B. Did you notice anything unusual in the video? When psychologists tried this on 200 people, 46 percent missed the gorilla completely. When the researchers later told them about it, many of them refused to believe they had missed something so obvious and requested to watch the video again.
Why didn’t so many of them see it the first time? Because they were so focused on counting passports, their neural filters had simply thrown the gorilla sight into the spam folder. This experiment shows what researchers call unintentional blindness, our frequent inability to see, which is often right in front of us, when we don’t focus directly on it. Essentially, We tend to miss what we are not looking for.
This selective perception is also the reason why we see something everywhere when we look for it. You have probably seen this a million times. You hear a song once and suddenly it always seems to be on the radio. You buy a new style of shoe, then everyone wears it. Of course, nothing has changed in these scenarios – except your focus.
Try this little experiment. Close your eyes and think about the color red. Now open your eyes and look around the room. Does red appear everywhere? Assuming elves didn’t repaint your furniture while your eyes were closed, your change in perception is only due to your change in focus.
Connected: How positivity makes you healthy and successful
Instead of creating a cognitive pattern that looks for negatives and blocks success, we need to focus on training our brains to search the world for opportunities and new ideas. When our brain is constantly seeking and focusing on the positive, we benefit from three of the most important tools at our disposal: happiness, gratitude, and optimism.
This article originally appeared in the March / April 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
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