Would you like to see more of the world around you? If I were to tell you that your visual experience is only a pre-determined fraction of what you could be seeing, would you want to expand that? Research shows us that not only is visual information filtered through our brains, but what we perceive is pre-determined by the culture in which we are raised. And what we see informs how we experience our life making it more limited or expansive.
We see with our brain, not our eyes. Back in the 1970’s two researchers, Takahiko Masuda and Richard E. Nisbett, conducted research on a group of Americans and Japanese to observe cultural differences in perception. The research used 8 different animations of fish, plants and other objects like shells and rocks. In each animation, there was a ‘focal’ fish that was larger, faster, brighter or in some way dominant. When asked to recall what they saw Americans recalled the focal fish 70% more than Japanese participants. The latter would relay information about the background fish, plants, rocks and so on but would not even recognise the focal fish out of context. The Asian mindset is more holistic, the American bias more individualistic. Our cultural bias literally effects what we see around us.
Three Things You Might Try
To expand your world:
- Look beyond the obvious. Notice where your attention is first drawn and then look at what is nearby.
- Get in the habit of looking at things from unusual angles. It is amazing how abstract something can appear when you zoom in.
- Start to notice hidden beauty all around and feel gratitude.