Consciously thinking of something can trigger our minds to later notice it more frequently. It may not be more prevalent, it’s just that we’ll notice it as a pattern. I learned about this Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon last year, and sure enough I saw it mentioned in two other places within 24 hours.
|A woman doing her daily shopping at the boulangerie|
Shaping my experience: My assignments for France
Earlier this year I asked two dear friends what type of souvenir they would like me to bring them from France. I expected them to say scarves or some other object. I was surprised when they asked for things that required no expenditure, and I hadn’t anticipated how much richer my travels would be for the requests. One asked for photographs of strong women. Another asked for photographs of a certain popular graffiti artist. Both assignments shaped how I viewed and experienced my surroundings during my trip, and I noticed details that made my visit all the more unique and delightful.
|Three Women at the Centre Pompidou Museum|
|Graffiti in the alley outside our apartment on Rue Mouffetard|
|The Do Not Enter signs are usually just a red circle|
with a horizontal white line.
We found clever modified signs throughout Paris.
Not always finding exactly what I seek, but loving what I find
Naturally, I don’t look for things I don’t think I’ll find. I like the idea of putting something in my scope of attention and believing the universe will provide. Setting aside the judgment of whether I’m likely to find it or not, only focusing on my interest in seeing it.
I find coins on the ground a lot. I’ve found a lot over the years, and I continue to look even though I don’t think about it much. I didn’t see any change on the ground in France in almost three weeks. It made me curious if they have a different relationship to change than Americans where they don’t accidentally drop it as often as we do. Or perhaps the custom of leaving spare change for servers after meals doesn’t facilitate carrying as much change around. Do French men put change in their pockets or in a zippered wallet? Or does the fact that they have coins worth a dollar or more increase their carefulness with their money? This is one case of not finding what I looked for. It wasn’t something I need, and it prompted a curiosity in my thoughts and discussion with my sister about the possible reasons why the difference. I didn’t find what I originally sought; I found something that satisfied my search in an even more interesting and fulfilling way.
As I look at my vision boards from a couple years ago, it amazes me how many of the things pictured I’ve learned to do, have done, or have in my life now! These experiences urge me to be more proactive about how I view my day. I’m tired, maybe I’ll think about looking for energy around me. If I’m feeling low, I can think about seeking joy and beauty. It'll be interesting to see how it works!