WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET…
Have you ever noticed how when you buy a new car all you can see on a road packed with hundreds of cars, are cars…just like yours - same make, same, model and maybe, if you’re lucky, even the same color? When we were thinking of putting up a new fence in front of our house in Connecticut, all I saw when we drove by other people’s homes were… fences. Those fences were always there but I’d never actually seen them before. We have a Golden Retriever named Willa. (I know, I know, I write about and talk about her all the time..) When I take her to Central Park for her walk, all I “notice” are the Golden Retrievers. You know how many dogs there are in Central Park? Hundreds! But I don’t see them. I only see the “Willa’s..”
Here’s the point: The world is filled with so many things: cars, fences, dogs, people, ideas, points of view… but, on the whole, we only “notice” or “see,” what relates to what we already have, already know, already like, already think – whether it’s stuff we love – or stuff we loathe. And not surprisingly, we experience what we look for. And that can be a good – or a bad thing…depending on what we’re noticing.
“The world’s full of angry people!” a colleague recently told me. “They’re everywhere. You can’t get away from them..” “Yeah,” I said, “I guess you’re right, but I really hadn’t noticed that many…” “Well, they’re there..” he said vehemently. So I started looking around. And sure enough, I found them.
I saw a scowling woman hissing into her cell phone, clearly outraged by some disservice or affront. I saw what looked like the foreman at a construction site poking his finger smack in the chest of another workman and shouting at the top of his lungs.
To cap off the day, on the way home, my cab driver slammed his hand down so hard and so long on his horn (at a car who’d cut in front of him) that I asked him to pull over so I could get out.
That’s pretty much all I remembered about that day – a bunch of angry people. I felt really crummy. “Maybe you should look for something else,” I told myself…quietly. “Like happy people.” So I did.
I didn’t have far to look. The following day I got in an empty elevator, pressed “lobby” and was about to check my iPhone when the elevator stopped and two young men got in, both laughing. I decided not to ignore them…but to engage. “Well, you guys look happy,” I said. One of the men grinned at me and said pointing at his friend, “I’m laughing because he’s the funniest guy in the world.” “The second funniest,” the other guy said, “after him! He’s funny…” and he started laughing again. I started laughing, too. “Actually,” the first man said, “the reason I like coming to work is that this guy makes me laugh.” “Both of you make me laugh,” I said. I chuckled all the way back to my office. Best of all, I didn’t even know why..
Here’s what I learned: You look for anger, you find it. You look for happiness, you find it. Whatever you decide to “notice” influences what you experience. It’s true, there were some angry people out there. I just hadn’t really noticed them before. But when I looked for them, I found somehappy people, too.
So the question is: What do you want to experience? Look for it. Look hard. Maybe it’s red jaguars, maybe it’s picket fences, maybe it’s all the laughing people you can spot in any given day. Or the “Willas”….
Here’s a fact: We are what we think about. So think about – and look for - the good stuff.
You’ll find it. I promise.