We Only See What We Want To See

we only see what we want to seeWe only see what we want to see. If you strive to see the good in any situation, or the goodness in other people then chances are that is what you will observe. Of course the opposite is true as well.

The other day I was walking past a newly tilled garden and I have to tell you… it smelled like crap, literally. There was enough manure tilled into the soil that it smelled as if you were standing in the middle of pasture with about 200 head of cattle surrounding you. It was bad.

I stopped and looked at the turned over fresh earth and stared at it. The stench notwithstanding, there wasn’t anything to it. Bare and brown… that was it. But we only see what we want to see and instead of seeing what was basically just poop and mud, I chose to see the what it will be in a months time or so… a beautifully brilliant garden that by then will not smell nearly as bad, as a matter fact, it will be the exact opposite.

As humans, why does it seem easier almost for us to descend, deteriorate, or decay rather than to ascend, to grow, to learn, to develop, or to thrive? When given the choice between seeing lack versus abundance, beauty versus the unattractive, and love versus fear or hate… why do we gravitate to the latter instead of the former in most cases?

Truthfully, it is just a guess and the only explanation that I have ever been able to come up with and for whatever reason it just seems to be in our nature. It is in our nature because it is easier, perhaps.

We Only See What We Want To See

A few years ago one of my “smarter” friends and I were having a discussion about this phenomena and he had a great way of explaining it. His appraisal of our condition and tendency to see the negative was explained in how we might even look at a lawn full of green grass.

He pointed out that as humans we have the uncanny ability if we were to stare at a perfectly green lawn to notice the one single brown blade of grass and completely focus on that. More often than not, what we originally thought was a pristine and gorgeous lawn would now be nearly ruined in our minds only because we focus on that single brown blade.

We give that one little single brown blade of grass the power to completely upset our experience of appreciating everything else that might be right with the lawn. But why? Again, I think that it is just easier… it is easier to focus on the bad and let our emotional state, our thoughts and our feelings slide down the scale as a result. Because to do otherwise, to look at the green grass, to take your attention away from that single brown blade of grass, to focus intentionally on what is right rather than what is wrong takes effort. It takes energy, and it takes work.

We only see what we want to see and it isn’t that we necessarily want to focus on what is wrong… it’s just easier for us to see it and to focus on that.

How often do you focus on the inconsequential things in life and by doing that end up ruining your experience of the consequential or the things that truly matter? Are you able to enjoy “what is right” without being distracted by “what is wrong?”

The next time you find yourself having a bad experience, think of the brown blade of grass story and ask yourself on which are you focusing?

It is always easier to look at the downside and to complain. It is much tougher to resist that urge and put effort into seeing and appreciating the upsides and what is good. But I guarantee that effort pays off quite handsomely when it comes to your overall happiness and contentment in life.

We only see what we want to see… so which would you rather see, the brown grass or the green grass? Where will you choose to place your focus?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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Photo By Andy Wooten 23 June 2015

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