Before you begin reading this post, take 10 seconds, look around your current environment, and see how many things you can identify that are red.
(C’mon now, really do this. You’ll enjoy the rest of the post more if you do.)
<10 seconds later>
How’d you do? What items did you identify that were red? How many were you able to observe in 10 seconds? Were you surprised at the number of red things you were able to locate? I was!
Here’s another question, why do you think you were able to locate so many red items in the exercise above? Perhaps you’re thinking, “Because you told me to, Scott”. While that’s true, I believe the real answer is… because you were looking for things that were red.
It makes sense, right? We tend to find what we’re looking for. Since you were specifically looking for red items, your radar was up and you were on the lookout for things that were red. After you spotted the first couple of red items, it probably got easier to find other things that were red. It felt like that for me. Before I knew it, I had located about a dozen red things.
I think a similar scenario can occur in our daily lives regarding how we view the world and the people we interact with. For example, have you ever thought that the world was going downhill, and then had that thought reinforced by a news headline or an on line article? Suppose we hold a particular belief about an organization. This organization could be a group like Congress, a corporation, or a specific demographic of the population. The list is endless. Without consciously intending to do so, we will be looking for evidence like a story on the news, or an article on line, or even in the behavior we may witness from this demographic that supports our belief. With every piece of evidence we find that supports our belief, the stronger our belief becomes. The stronger that belief becomes, the easier it is to spot the evidence for the belief. The easier it becomes to look for things that are red.
Let’s dig a little deeper and apply this concept to our relationships with others. Have you ever been annoyed by a person close to you, and harbored thoughts like, “She’s so (fill in the blank with their personality trait that annoys you)…!” or “He is always (insert their behavior that drives you up the wall)…!” This person could be a spouse, significant other, boss, co-worker, child, friend, relative, or any other person you interact with on a regular basis. The more we think these negative thoughts, the easier it is to spot the evidence that supports our thoughts about this individual. We can spot the evidence without even trying. In fact, it is usually the first thing we notice about this person, regardless of the other great traits and attributes they may have. Their positive traits get over looked because they are not what we’re looking for. We’re too busy looking for red in this person. And since we’re looking for red, red is what we’ll find.
How damaging that can be to a relationship. Looking only for red can be so insidious, starting out as a small observation and over time ballooning into an unshakable negative belief.
Let’s be mindful of what we’re looking for in others and in the world around us and how it affects our outlook. No longer will we look for red in others, and miss the myriad colors that represent their positive attributes. Since we find what we’re looking for, let’s cause something to happen by looking for something good or positive in others and in the world around us.
There are so many beautiful colors to be seen. Let’s not focus solely on red.