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HOW TO COUNTER CHANGE BLINDNESS — Another IPS

HOW TO COUNTER CHANGE BLINDNESS — Another IPS

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a growing appreciation of process.  [Creativity and change move through every situation you encounter.  Enjoy the ride ’cause there ain’t no going back!]

Change is everywhere.  Everything keeps changing, little by little.  Like a tree growing, it just keeps on.

The thing is you don’t really notice how big that tree is getting until you find an old picture and are amazed at the difference in that tree your father planted in the yard all those years ago.

tree-at-chellow-dean
“Tree at Chellow Dean” by Tim Green via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
This is true of everything and everyone around you.

A day doesn’t seem very long but changes do happen.  Every day, there’s at least a miniscule little difference.

Things grow this way or that as time flows on – a tree, your town, your partner, your kids, your business, or even you.  There is always a little bit of change.

These changes are often so small that they are easily overlooked.

Then, “suddenly”, one day, you notice that everything is different and you are blown away.

And that is how life tends to come at you.

WHAT?  WHEN DID THAT CHANGE?

Consider what has happened in the last year.  What about the last decade?

Take a look at any chunk of time in your life and the bigger the chunk, the more changes you’ll be able to point to.

Researchers have had a field day for decades studying how people tend not to notice change as it’s happening, in the short term and in the long term as well.

They tell us it’s just how humans are hard-wired.

We notice what’s in our world in bits and pieces in a rapid and dynamic way.

We pay attention to the bits that seem to be important to us at that time and then we build constructs and stories out of our initial impressions.

Sometimes, however, our constructs and the stories we’ve built get in the way of actually seeing what’s happening now.

A fun book to read regarding this phenomenon is THE INVISIBLE GORILLA:  How Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Daniel Simons and Chris Chabris.  The two authors are the creators of one of psychology’s most famous experiments.

This YouTube video, “The Invisible Gorilla” features Daniel Simons talking about that experiment.  It was published by the Beckman Institute in 2011 and won a regional Emmy award.

As Simons says, the human mind pretty much sees what it expects to see.

We are often blind to change because we are focusing on something else that we feel is important and that needs to be processed and attended to.

Distractions that occur within the same time-frame as the change, the age of an observer, as well as the use of psychoactive drugs also may affect whether we notice some change or other.

HUH?

The guys in the lab coats call this mind-trick “change blindness” and, they say, we are all vulnerable to its effects.  It’s an everyday phenomenon.

Drivers fail to recognize changes in traffic lights.  They miss important signs and signals from other vehicles and from their surroundings.  Sometimes they don’t notice pedestrians or other vehicles in their path.

Accidents happen.

accident-in-egan
“Accident in Egan” by Ruin Raider via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Imagine what would happen if an air traffic controller did not notice some important change on their instruments.  Yipes!

Arguments, misunderstandings and confusion are likely between people who fail to recognize that one or the other of them has changed in some way.

Eyewitness reports about any incident will differ radically from each other and, even worse, may have almost no congruence with what actually happened.

The number of big, smart and successful companies who completely failed to notice that their environment had changed is the stuff of legend.

The “buggy-whip syndrome” takes out those entrepreneurs who fail to notice the rise of some new technology or innovation that makes their product or their way of doing business redundant or obsolete. They bite the dust.

SO WHAT’S YOUR NEXT MOVE?

The researchers do say that knowing about your propensity for change blindness is a help.

They also tell us that what you pay attention to can help you navigate better through this ever-changing world.

They agree that you do have to know what is important to you and keep your eye on that.

Some of them also emphasize the importance of knowing how any major change that may occur will affect these important-to-you things.

That could be an overwhelming task, it seems to me.

warning
Warning” by Chris Tse via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
Example.  We’ve all heard about climate change and increasingly erratic weather patterns, but what does that mean to us personally?

  • Do we sell our coastal homes and relocate inland?
  • Do we stay where we are, but invest in retrofits and reinforcements?
  • Do we ignore the warnings and hope for the best?

ARGH!

It can be really hard to wrap your head around many of the major world changes and their possible effects on your life.

The final acts of some of the really big world changes are probably set for tens of thousands of years in the future.

Unless it’s your passion, it may be a bit difficult to work up serious personal concern about them in the here and now.

However, many of the challenges of other lesser changes (like you working in a failing or fading industry or your kids hitting puberty or your aging parent’s need for care) can be foreseen.

You can probably suss out at least some of the effects these changes may have on your life.

You are likely to find examples and models of different ways to deal with these sorts of changes that other people have developed and you may be able to construct specific plans that you can use to deal with them.

Doing this can allow you to gradually implement these plans to good effect.

Some Smarty-Pants advocate having an early warning system in place that alerts you to the need to work out what you can do to preserve the important things in your life before a change that could adversely affect them occurs.

I’ve lived all my life with an early warning system set up by the (American) National Weather Service that alerts us island folk of the approach of tsunamis and hurricanes.

The eerie wailing of that siren system as it is tested every month reminds us that the possibility of disaster is a given.

tsunami-warning-system
“Tsunami Warning Siren” by Wesley Fryer via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
I’m not sure how I feel about having a personal early-warning system which might have the net effect of reminding me that at any time in this era of whirlwind changes my life could possibly turn to drek.

Trying to parse out every marginally likely worst-case scenario and then figuring out possible solutions or game plans for a whole array of these changes is more than a little daunting.

(It also sounds massively time-consuming.)

And then, of course, there is the Mike Tyson admonition: “Everyone thinks they have a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.”  This, too, is a truth.

joe-louis-monument
“Joe Louis Monument” by Amaury Laporte via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

ANOTHER TAKE

This YouTube video, “Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck)” features social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood’s 2013 talk at TEDxUCDavis.

It looks at another way to deal with the events and changes that happen and will continue to happen every day in your world.

Listening to Ledgerwood reminded me that change blindness can also keep us from seeing how the circumstances of our lives have changed for the better.

As she points out, we humans tend to focus on the negatives and gloss over the positive, “good” changes that happen (and keep happening) along with the “bad.”  Many of us are naturals at forecasting worst-case scenarios.

Consciously working on noticing the positives may actually be a better alternative than compulsively planning and preparing for every catastrophe and making an archive of back-up and contingency plans that may never be needed.

You only have so much time in the world.  Do you really want to spend it making plans and preparing yourself for dealing with what might happen if The-Sh*t-Hits-The-Fan?

Some people do.  Perhaps you are one of them.

If not, then focusing on practicing and stretching your ability to stay in Ledgerwood’s “gain frame” might be right for you.

AND ONE MORE

Happiness researcher Shawn Achor is well-known for his advocacy of positive thinking.

One of his books, THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, points out that starting from happiness (rather than using happiness as a reward) actually may work to boost your productivity at work and your overall general sense of well-being.

He also gives practical pointers on how you can rewire your brain so that the happiness that’s already in your life becomes a sustainable, self-renewing thing.

The following YouTube video is a short animated review of the book published in 2016 by Practical Psychology.  It points out some of the book’s highlights.

Here’s a poem….


I AM NOTICING

I am noticing that

I don’t do “love” poems any more.

Not the spooning-mooning kind

‘Bout you and me by the deep blue sea,

Happy, we, in our mutual blindness.

Not the angst-ridden scouring

Of a heart already rubbed raw

By the windblown sands of a broken hourglass.

Not the whining, wailing love-song gone sour,

The cry from a heart lost in the dark.

Not the golden content of love grown old,

Rubbed down by an ocean’s worth of waves and storms

That have smoothed away all the extraneous

Lusts and desires that seemed so important once.

None of that, now.

No more.

 

I’m noticing, too, that

I don’t do protest poems any more.

‘Bout all the darkness in this old world.

No longer do I peer through the gloom

With spinning post-apocalyptic eyes,

Looking for the spark of some other, brighter paradise.

No longer am I pronouncing jeremiads

Excoriating vile evils and dark deeds,

Invoking wrathful deities.

I have stopped using my head as a battering ram,

Beating against the walls of the obtuse,

Trying to fix the unbroken universe.

I am done with that.

Don’t go there any more.

 

The passion still sits, burning in my gut.

I can feel it.

(I’m pleased to report it has not leaked out, that passion,

Like some body fluid running down my leg.)

 

Now, though, it’s some giant burning bird,

Turning raptor eyes on this mirror-world.

Tiger, that old warrior, sleeps soundly,

Sprawled at my feet, snoring.

He’s tired, spent, and worn.

The intensity’s still there, but now it’s coiled around me,

A quiescent Turtle-Snake in cold sleep,

Before the warmth of yet another spring sun touches him.

 

I wonder if I am gaining

That thing the wise guys call “perspective.”

That’s a GOOD thing, right?

It could be that I’m turning jade-hard, jade-strong –

I’ve been ripped out of my earthly womb

Where the rough and raw crystalline me

Grew through the millennia,

And I’ve gone lustrous after being

Shaped and polished by some artisan’s hand.

I sit now, an art object.

 

I am finding it….unsatisfactory, I think.

I would rather be ravaged by starlight

And bruised by butterfly wings.

I would rather be riding my Dragon.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit: “Kapalua, Maui Sunrise” by Mark Cameron via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

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THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

A lot of Un-Seeing is about developing a different way of seeing your world.  In this video of a TEDx talk at the University of Illinois, Daniel Simons who is the head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois explains that what we think we see is not necessarily so.  He touches on how what we see affects the way we think.

GETTING NEW EYES

One way to help yourself grow away from your habitual, same-old habits of thought is to expose yourself to the ridiculous, the radical, the unfamiliar and the surprising.  Any of these can help shake your set mind loose…you are more open to exploring when you are facing something for the first time.

Just for fun, check out this video, Let’s Look At the World a Little Differently by Jing Ling (2012)  It shows events captured by security cameras around the world that are not horrifying or scary-making.  Could something like that change your idea of the world as it is?  Think about it….

TRAVELING PROMOTES NEW EYES

Many books on developing your own creativity tell you to make a point of trying a new thing:  take a different route to work, have a conversation with a new neighbor, see a movie you would never watch normally…anything to break up the patterns.

This way of mind-bending has always been the classic argument for the value of traveling to new and different places.  When you’re a stranger in a strange land and you are looking at things you have never seen before, it’s likely that the strangeness will trigger in you other ways of thinking.

For the last thirty years, journalist Rick Steves (a marvelous storyteller) spent four months every year traveling all over the world.  He lays out how it enriched his life and how it helped him become braver, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much,” he says in this TedX Rainer talk.

DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN

I’m not sure WHO started all of these 30-day challenges, but they are certainly getting ubiquitous.  You can 30-day challenge your way to any new habit or skillful means, it seems – everything from a better diet, a new exercise regimen, a new way of thinking, or anything else that is subject to change.

Repetition promotes new habits and new patterns of thinking, it is said.  How would trying something new every day change up your ways of thinking?

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

It’s a lot harder to work on approaching the familiar as if you are looking at it for the first time, seeing the strange in the ordinary and the everyday, or seeing connections that are currently obscured by the assumptions you’ve already made or the ways you’ve already been taught to see things.

You need to get some Outsider eyes.  Ask yourself:  How would anything in your life look to someone who has never seen it before?

I grew up in Hawaii.  For the first seven years of my life, I was living in a different country that was owned by America as a “territory.”  It seems we do things a bit differently than the folks who grew up in Middle America.  It has been an eye-opener for me.

Nowadays we have all kinds of people flying in to check out the beauty of this place.  They come with their own attitudes and their own set-points about what is “right” or “wrong” or “true” or “false.”  Often they do not see what we see and talking to them helps me see our local “realities” from a different point of view.

hawaiian-767
Hawaiian 767 by Simon Clancy [CC BY 2.0]
Talking to our visitors and newcomers (and even to the relatives and friends who have gone away to live in other places) helps us who have never left understand other perspectives and other people’s world-views, it seems to me.

LIVING IN DIFFERENT WORLDS (IN THE SAME PLACE)

Some of the many visitors to the Hawaiian islands come to live here with us.  Some of them actually acclimate to our way of doing things.  They “go native,” reveling in the many layers of our island society’s culture and the richness of our many-faceted worlds.

Other newcomers hang together in their own enclaves and pretty much try to live the life they always lived when they were living somewhere else.  They spend a lot of time making comparisons and finding a lot of what is here unsatisfactory.

Still others end up disillusioned because this much-touted substitute for “Paradise” is not what they thought it should be.

Hawaii is a place made up of realities and dreams, just like every place else.  What you believe is what you will see.  It makes this place particularly instructive to those who are trying to find new eyes, I think. I know the ones who grew up here are also always getting surprises and lessons about living as well.

Here’s another poem….


TO A STRANGER LOOKING FOR PARADISE

Island welcomes you when you come.

The gate is always open.

It is open when you come;

When you leave, it is open.

 

‘As how…

 

But, if…if you really want to be a part

Of this Paradise you keep hearing about,

Talking about, thinking about,

Here’s your first lesson:

 

Be Island.

Whatever you are given, accept gratefully.

Whatever you can give, give graciously.

Be who you are, gracefully.

 

That’s Island.

People smile if you smile; people laugh if you laugh.

If you cry, they will hug you.

If you hurt, they will comfort you.

 

Boast and they turn away, embarrassed for you.

Show angry and they walk away,

Or return anger for anger.

That’s Island.

 

If you are real, Island is real.

If you play games, Island plays harder games.

If you wear masks, Island becomes illusion –

Sometimes a pretty dream, and sometimes a nightmare.

 

‘As how.

Island is not how much money you have,

Or how many fine things.

Island is appreciating who you are, how other people are, and where you are.

 

‘As how.

You will be tested:  There will always be lessons,

There will always be tests.

Doesn’t matter how long you stay.

 

That’s Island.

People have been burned by strangers over and over.

They wait, they watch, they see if you can handle squirming, dodging obstacles…

If you will keep going, as they do.

 

‘As how.

They know:  Island is a cruel, cruel lover.

Her hands, full of fruits and flowers, hide clubs and spears.

She asks for total surrender; she only wants all you’ve got….

 

That’s Island….

If you take and take and take, Island shuts down to you.

Doesn’t matter if you are rich or smart.

Doesn’t matter if you are a “person of consequence.”

 

Island will not be with you and in you and of you.

You can live here fifty years,

And STILL you will not be Island.

‘As how….

 

So, if you want Paradise, if THAT is your dream,

Know there is a price you will have to pay.

Know that the price is all of who you are and what you are.

That’s Island….

 

Also know that when you have paid it

And keep on paying it, paying it, paying it,

Island opens to you and the dream becomes real….

That’s Island.

 

Here is the key…

You can use it if you like:

There is only one gate to Paradise.

It is inside of you.

 

‘As how….

by Netta Kanoho

[A friend of mine once told me it is a Molokai thing, the phrase, ‘as how….  It encompasses the concept “that-is-the-way-it-is,” but it’s also more than that.  It is a deep understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of human nature and all its faults, for the world as it is and all its vagaries, and for the Mystery – the mana and the Spirit — that is at the heart of living.] 


Picture credit: Vanity Eyes by Ikon (Grazla Horwitz) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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