What You Don’t Know You Don’t See
As clever as our brains are, there’s something very peculiar about them. Despite the amazing complexity of our thinking organ, it is pretty poor at noticing what it doesn’t already know.
This is bread and butter stuff for magicians who use the way our brain engages mental shorthand to make sense of everything around us. While we focus on an obvious gesture, men in gorilla suits, dancing girls, and ball-balancing seals can truck on by, whilst we barely see a thing. Why? Because these don’t fit with what we focusing on.
So it is with life. We have trouble noticing unfamiliar ideas because we are too wrapped up in familiar viewpoints. As much as we like novelty to stimulate our mind, we happen to be saps for patterns. Like when you get engrossed in your favorite TV show. Anything else converts to interference.
We enjoy the flow of things we know and unless we are willing to see alternative themes, they typically remain invisible. That’s why people lock onto ideas and stick to them, regardless of their ongoing accuracy.
Is that a problem? Well some think not. But it seems to me we do better being open to discovery and learning about new opinions. In turn they generate better thinking and stimulate our creativity.
Regardless who we are, we all need more creativity to live enjoy a dynamic life. When that great American, Ben Franklin once quipped, “Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.“” I believe he was alluding to their lack of imagination.
Having no room in their mind to see more than what they already know, some folk stop growing. When that happens they basically live the same ideas over and over, resisting the potential for personal development and refusing to harness change.
To live more, grow more, and move beyond our thinking limitations, we need to be amenable to fresh ideas and possibilities. It’s never enough to hit an age, stop, and then keep clicking the “repeat “ button. Mind you, I’ve met plenty of people like that. Some teachers, for instance, who genuinely seek to teach children but shy away from discovery in their own lives.
Apart from the health benefits, openness to new views does something else essential. It prevents people from becoming boring.
Recognizing that there is infinitely more to discover than we already know is not only thought-provoking, it’s exciting. Instead of waiting until someone has had their say and then filling them in with our bit, saying, “Tell me more about that” and fully listening invites new opinions.
To find out more about what we don’t know, create an empty mental space that you can fill with discoveries. Leave room for contradictions, by all means, and refuse to make sense of things too soon, even if it bothers you.
Dare to keep finding things out that you don’t know and enhance your thirst for fresh knowledge. Because if you do, you’ll find a host of multilayered worlds before you, new to the eye, exciting, and as satisfying (or more so) than the ones you already know.
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