Our brains are wired to chunk data and make things routine so we can handle more complex tasks, writes Elisha Goldstein. But what happens when the brain applies this method to other human beings or even the people who are dearest to us?
As fabulous as our brains are, they have their blind spots to happiness. Our brains are wired to chunk data and make things routine so we can handle more complex tasks. But what happens when it applies this method to other human beings or even the people who are dearest to us? When we feel connected, we feel balanced and happy. When we feel disconnected, we feel imbalanced and often unhappy. A little while ago New York Rescue mission tried out a little experiment to see just how invisible the homeless are to most of us. What they found will touch your heart and has implications for all our relationships.
Here is a short 3-minute video of their experiment:
In the video you’ll see:
- People agreed to pose as a homeless person.
- Then, they had their unsuspecting relatives (wife, sister, cousin, grandson) walk by.
- The relatives did not even notice their loved ones.
Underneath every human being is a need for belonging.
We all have a need to feel cared about, to be understood, to be accepted.
Whether it’s someone who is homeless, a friend, a cousin, a sister, a brother, parents or grandparents, our brains begin to objectify them and often times forget the common humanity that binds us.
Right now, break out of this routine and open your mind to these three questions:
- Who are you grateful for?
- Why are you grateful for them?
- How do you express your gratitude? (This is the part that is often left out, yet the most critical).
Make a commitment right now or at some point today to express it and see if you notice feeling a bit happier.
Our brain’s greatest blind spot may be that it is wired to make everything in object. But we have to remember that everyone is worthy of love and belonging (including ourselves). Choosing that is a conscious choice and that starts with mindfulness.
PS - For fun, if you want to try out a little experiment to see beyond the object and experience the commonalities behind you and other people in your life, even a homeless person, try the 2-minute “Just Like Me” practice.
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and conducts a private practice in West Los Angeles. He is author of book The Now Effect (Atria Books, 2012), Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler (Atria Books, 2013), and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger, 2010).