In a recent conversation with a colleague, she mentioned reading an article that focused on the fact that what we perceive, where we focus our “seeing”, has a concrete effect in our world. This reminded me of the quantum physics findings around the “observer effect”. The observer effect speaks to the fact that the observer of an experiment seems to have a powerful and important impact on the outcome of the experiment. What the observer expects turns out to be what actually happens.
In the article my colleague mentioned, the author encouraged people to see what is good and right in their world as, in this way, they promote those qualities and outcomes, drawing on the dynamics of the observer effect. This reminded me of something I’ve shared before in a number of experiments on the dynamics of what is called subtle activism. We engage subtle activism when we use practices from meditation, prayer, guided imagery, chanting, and others to support and affect collective consciousness. Key to this is that we bring our awareness to a particular intention and then draw on these kinds of practices to bring it to life.
As I thought about the invitation of the author to “see what’s right”, it also reminded me of the solution-focused therapy approach of focusing on what’s going right rather than rehashing problems. For this week’s experiment, I invite you to notice what happens if you spend the week focusing on what’s good in your world and also on what’s “right” and positive, whatever that may mean for you. And, play with the idea that, in doing so, you nourish and support the reality of what’s right and good in your world.
It helps to remember that our brain, as a dynamic survival organ, tends to look at what’s out of place, in order to keep us safe. This habit of perception and mind goes on outside our conscious awareness, and it’s important to be able to catch this tendency and refocus awareness and perception on what’s going right, instead.
This habit of noticing what’s out of place is our auto-pilot way of being and has a powerful impact on our mood and overall state of mind. Shifting to noticing what’s good and what’s going right not only allows you to participate in a form of subtle activism, it also has a tendency to improve your state of mind. As you play with this week’s experiment, notice what happens to the quality of your internal experience as you continue to orient to what’s good and right in the course of your daily experience.
This doesn’t mean that you ignore what’s happening in your world that needs your attention in order to make it better, or change it, or improve a situation. Holding both a sense of what’s going right with an open awareness of what needs your attention is a flexible and important state of awareness to carry. Also, you may find that there’s a part of you that resists seeing what’s going right, or what is good, that may be present because of your history or because of experiences you’ve had along the way that have made you more cautious about focusing on what’s going right.
All of these are natural responses and can become part of a practice of living consciously, of bringing awareness to mixed feelings, allowing you to notice what needs your attention. Our inner awareness is our best friend, as it allows us the gift of choice, moment to moment.
As with all these experiments, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion. As to any judgments that may arise as you play with orienting to what’s going right in your world, also remember to allow them to arise, move through, and move on without having to engage them.