Choose your lens

In my previous post, I explained my term, “simplicity dilemma” – that Positive Psychology Interventions often seem so simple that people tend not to take them seriously. How can something as simple as a gratitude exercise be so powerful? Let’s get into the nitty gritty of it.

One of the things that makes our brains as powerful as they are, is the ability to spot patterns. Patterns, or repetition, leave such an imprint on our brains that they are the reason we tend to go on “auto-pilot”. None of us need to carefully consider how to open a door, how to speak or to read the symbols we call letters on a page. We do those things automatically, because our brains know and repeat the pattern without us having to consciously make decisions or put in any effort. .

We see this pattern-detecting tendency of our brains in other areas of our lives as well. If you have spent too long playing a video or computer game, you’ll know that uncanny feeling of the game super-imposing itself onto your everyday life. Due to a very strong connection to the game, this effect is often referred to as the “Tetris Effect”. Those who have spent long hours playing this addictive game, often close their eyes at bedtime, only to continue to see those geometric shapes falling in front of their closed eyes.

The pattern-detecting habit of our brains goes beyond games, however. If you have been pregnant, you may remember suddenly seeing so many more people who are pregnant all around you. Not because there was a sudden boom in population, but because this is something your brain was primed to focus on . If you have sold your house, you may have suddenly seen that apparently “most” homes are suddenly for sale!

The key is this: The brain sees (looks for) that which is focused on, repeated or repeatedly experienced. To say it another way: What you focus on most will tint the lens through which you view the world. This is why it affects you when you spend much of your time with someone who is mostly negative and pessimistic, or why spending time with a positive and optimistic friend leaves you feeling lighter and happier. Whether you choose to steer your thoughts and / or exposures or not, your brain is being primed to notice patterns every day.

Taking the time to journal about things you are grateful for, doing the things you love, and spending time in nature help you to adjust the lens through which you view the world. It is a way of priming your brain to notice the good, and not to focus so much on the negative, that we start believing that there is more bad than good in the world.

I think you might find, that if you were to start listing the things you are grateful for, you may realise how much good in the world we take for granted. And that, might make your lens a little brighter.

3 thoughts on “Choose your lens”


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