The gorilla in the room
We don’t notice as much as we’d like to think.
One of psychology's most famous experiments–the Gorilla Experiment–illustrates this point beautifully. In this study, participants watched a short video of six people–three in white shirts and three in black shirts–passing basketballs. Participants were asked to count the number of times people in white shirts passed the ball (15 times).
Seems simple enough.
But at one point, for 9 whole seconds, someone in a gorilla costume strolls onto the scene, faces the camera, thumps his chest, and then walks away.
Amazingly, 50% of viewers did not see the gorilla!
How is this possible?
What we focus on is what we see.
And we spend a lot of time focused on some really inane and negative garbage–sometimes to a debilitating degree. Yikes!
Many years ago, I had a job that I hated. I hated this job so much that hating my job became my job. And, lo and behold:
100% negative focus = 1,000 reasons for resentment and disgust
It’s an ugly equation and a huge waste of time!
In fact, I got so wrapped up in hating my job that I created an online e-commerce website, selling underwear to professionals–Evil 2 the Core: Hostile Undergarments for Smiling Professionals
Evil 2 the Core’s merchandise consisted of 100% cotton tank bras, printed with big, hateful slogans–empowering the employed with a layer of armor to protect them from The Man and other employment annoyances.
THIS SMILE MEANS I HATE YOU!
BEAUTICIAN, NOT MAGICIAN!
GO TO THE LIGHT ALREADY! (for nurses)
Etc . . .
As it turned out, there's a market for hostile undergarments. Evil 2 the Core was an international novelty item. Because a lot of people really hate their jobs.
Building Evil 2 the Core was fun. It also played to my strengths in branding, marketing, and dark humor. But it was super time-consuming, a big pain, and an enormous distraction from what actually mattered–figuring out what I really cared about and doing it!
In retrospect, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I'd focused on the positive?
I wouldn't have two enormous tubs of hostile underwear in my basement.
Since then, I’ve come to believe that:
Success does not fuel happiness. Being happy fuels success.
And happiness is usually standing right in front of us, like a 300 lb. gorilla, waiting to be noticed. We just need to get focused and tune in.
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