Say what you see. It's the simplest thought experiment I know, and demonstrates an essential insight to help you change your mind and raise your personal bar to happiness. Have you ever felt 'stuck' in a situation, lifestyle or relationship? Perhaps the situation doesn't need to change. Perhaps you do?
How you can change your mind in 10 easy steps
When I was teaching counselling at an adult education college, there was an experiment I used to do with students which involved placing an apple in the middle of the table and then asking students to write down what they saw together with the thoughts and associations triggered by the apple.
It was the kind of 'stream of consciousness' exercise Freud would have been proud of.
The results were predictable. One saw a rosy red apple, another noticed a bruise and some thought it looked a bit overripe. The associations ranged from teachers, school and homework to granny's apple pie and the Garden of Eden.
What's the point?
They were all looking at the same apple. The apple, you could say, was neutral. But what they did, was lay all 'their stuff' on the apple.
Of course the exercise was not about the apple at all.
Surprisingly, you can change your mind by just changing chairs.
Working now is a psychotherapist and coach, I sometimes help my clients to come and sit in my chair for a while. I then ask them to say what they notice about the room we are sitting in. Some think the room seems brighter or larger. Some notice a picture or a plant they hadn't noticed before.
They all think the room looks 'different.'
But the room, has not changed. They have simply changed their position within the room and are now seeing it from a different perspective.
It's all about perception and the stories we tell ourselves.
There are many ways to look at things. Often, we cannot change the world around us or even our personal circumstances, but simply need to change the way we look at things.
Try this powerful perception-shifting exercise to 'see with new eyes'
- Bring to mind the person or situation causing you to feel stuck.
- Now float outside the situation in your mind, as though you are viewing it on a screen.
- What do you notice now about the situation and the people involved?
- From this new position, what can you see about your choices?
- Mentally rehearse how you would like to see this situation resolved.
- Now freeze frame that picture.
- Put a frame around it
- Hang it somewhere in your mind if you want to, or shrink it down and throw it away, or file it knowing you can come back to it if you wish to.
- Notice how do you feel about the situation now?
- Repeat as and whenever you feel it would be useful to 'reframe' your view.
HAPPINESS IS NOW HERE
One of my favourite pieces of wisdom is attributed to the French novelist, Marcel Proust
'The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.'
So what words did you see?