I used to drive a silver minivan. Whenever I would walk into a parking lot and start looking for my van I was horrified to realize that the lots were always full of silver minivans, making it difficult for me to find mine. Fast forward a few years and we replaced that silver minivan with a black SUV. Guess what? Every time I walk out into a parking lot they are filled with black SUVs.
How can this be? Is this some prank by a reality series that where ever I go I am followed by at least 10 people driving similar vehicles and they park around me just to film me wandering around, befuddled, looking for my vehicle?
No, this is an important lesson: You will find what you are looking for.
I’m always looking for MY vehicle. So I notice the other vehicles that are similar but my eyes skip right over the blue cars, yellow trucks, white SUVs and anything else that I’m telling my brain not to pay attention to.
What else in life are we looking for and, conversely, telling our brains not to pay attention to?
Why do some people seem to be magnets for fun and happiness when others attract quite the opposite? I’m not talking about the big life experiences and things out of our control, I’m talking about daily things: meals out, trips to the store, interactions with coworkers.
When you go to the store are you looking to be annoyed and irritated? You will find it. If you are looking for a bad experience you will set your mind to notice the slow checkers, irritating other shoppers, and incorrect pricing on your pancake mix. However, if you are looking for the kindness of others and opportunities to be kind in return, you will find it!
When you wake up in the morning what are you looking for in your partner? Are you looking for proof that this person is irritating and underappreciates you? Or, are you setting your mind to look for the little joys and love that are so easy for our minds to skip right over if we aren’t focused?
It’s a little more complicated than this though. What you are looking for also changes your actions and reactions.
I was once invited to a dinner party with people that I worried were “out of my league” and I was looking for proof that they would judge and distain my presence. So, I marched into that dinner with the attitude and bitterness of someone who had already been judged. Guess what? I wasn’t a delightful guest and I got the proof I was looking for. I was distained alright and probably judged as well. I found exactly what I was looking for. But ultimately whose fault was it? Didn’t I set a trap of negativity in my mind to capture the whole evening? It worked.
So it is in life. If you decided this morning to look for the ways that your partner/mother/friends love and respect you, chances are good that you are going to find proof. Opening your mind to the many ways, some very subtle, that the people around you are willing to give you love and acceptance will help you approach them with the same good energy. When you are thankful for the little things and can allow your mind skip right over the little irritations (and truly they are usually little irritations that our minds blow out of proportion- If we are being honest!) then you start to reap the benefits of finding the happiness and compatibility that eluded you before.
Fact: If you and I meet tomorrow for lunch and chat for an hour, I will give you multiple opportunities to both enjoy my company and to be irritated by the things I do or say. What will you be looking for? You will find it.
Fact: The school your child attends will always have policies that work for your child’s benefit and teachers that are going above and beyond. The opposite is also true. Which are you going to allow to occupy the most space in your mind? Which are you going to focus on and give the most attention to? That is what you will find most often.
Fact: Your life partner is simultaneously a really great person and also a human who will have bad moments and is fallible. Which are you looking for? You will find it! No human can live up to unrealistic expectations and scrutiny.
Fact: Your friends are also human. They will offend you. They will annoy you. They will rejoice in you. They will support you. What are you looking for? Which of these qualities will you find and nurture? What you look for and what you feed is what will grow.
On the flip side, when you look for the best and continually fail to find it, then you know it’s time to reevaluate choices. If you can honestly say you’ve been looking for an enjoyable dining experience and a particular restaurant still fails you; then it’s time to pick a new one. If you are greeting your friends with a warm, accepting, and loving heart and yet you are still being hurt or betrayed then it is clearly time to move on. Take your newfound positive attitude elsewhere that it will be embraced and celebrated!
What are you looking for? Readjust your search parameters and you can discover a whole new living experience.