Most of us are familiar with the way the pessimist sees the glass as half empty and the optimist sees it as half full. It’s the same glass seen from two different perspectives. Each person sees it differently because they have preconditioned themselves to look for and notice good or bad things. It’s a matter of attitude, mostly.
But there’s more.
In addition to seeing things differently, people can see or not see things at all based on their preconditioning, their attitude, or their beliefs. Scientists call this “predictive encoding.”
Richard Wiseman concluded in a study of the nature of “luck” that people largely make their own good or bad fortune. It’s a matter of attitude. People that expect good things to happen actually see opportunities that others don’t.
Consider an experiment with people who self-identified as either lucky or unlucky. Wiseman ran them through the following exercise: look through a newspaper and count how many photos were in it. The unlucky people finished the task in about two minutes, on average. The lucky people finished in just a few seconds.
Why? On the second page of the newspaper was a message that read “Stop counting – there are 43 photos.” The lucky people saw the message, the unlucky people blew right by it. The message wasn’t subtle, either – it took up half the page and used type about 2 inches high. Still, the lucky people tended to see it, and the unlucky people tended to miss it.
A second message was placed in the paper, about half way through. It read “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” You guessed it, the lucky people tended to notice this message, and the unlucky people tended to miss it.
Good things happen to those who expect good things
We’re all on the lookout for great opportunities. But maybe that’s not enough. Maybe it’s better to also expect to find great opportunities.
Photo credit: Sarah and Mike Scott