Have you ever gone looking for something, only to discover that what you were looking for was right in front of you? Have you ever helped someone else look for something — only to point out that what they were looking for was right in front of them?
Why is it that, so often, what you’re looking for turns out to be in a seemingly obvious location?
Partly, this oddity is due to the way that your eyes are formed. The back of the eye is not only where its light receptors are located; it’s also where the optic nerve enters the eyeball. This causes your eyes to have a small blindspot. Yet, that blindspot doesn’t show up as a patch of black in your vision. Instead, your brain’s visual processing ability compensates by filling in the gap with what it expects to see.
Since what your brain expects to see doesn’t always match with what there is to see, your brain’s tendency to fill in the gaps can yield some surprising results, such as dots seemingly disappearing and reappearing. In addition to compensating for blind spots, your brain’s visual processing ability also compensates for any lack of detail that it encounters. This is because each eye only has a high concentration of light receptors within a tiny area, known as the fovea centralis.
The densely packed light receptors in the fovea, which account for roughly half of the information being sent through the optic nerve, allow you to see details more clearly. However, just as your blindspot doesn’t show up as a patch of black, your inability to see details clearly outside of your visual focal point doesn’t show up like the blurring of a camera lens. Instead, your visual system compensates by filling in the less informed areas of your vision with what it expects to see.
When you expect that what you are looking for is not visible, you prime your brain to fill in both your blind spot and the blurrier areas of your vision with the expected absence of what you are looking for. This causes you to see what you expect to see, namely anything but what you are looking for!
Because the way our brains process information is relatively consistent, regardless of whether that information comes from our eyes or from any other source, our tendency to see only what we expect to see is as metaphorical as it is literal. In other words, your expectations always influence your perceptions. So, whatever helps you to see what is right in front of you can help you to discover things that seem hidden not just visually but elsewhere throughout your life as well.
Some suggestions to help you find what you’re looking for include:
If you expect to find something where it isn’t, your expectation makes it more difficult to discover where it is. Instead, release any expectations you may have so as to open yourself to all available possibilities.
It’s not only more fun to embark on a treasure hunt, it’s also more effective than worrying about what might happen if you don’t find what you’re looking for. By directing more of your attention on the task of seeking and less (or none at all) on the potential consequences of not finding, you are more likely to find what you are seeking.
Humor helps to release tension. And, being tense does not help you find what you’re looking for. If you are carrying tension by contracting your nervous system, you are actually reducing the flow of external information available for your brain to process, making it harder to find what you’re seeking.
Sometimes, when you’re sufficiently open to it, you don’t find what you’re looking for; you find something better. So, even if what you’re looking for isn’t right in front of you, even if you can’t find it at all, trust in the gloriousness of life — and enjoy all the treasure hunts along the way.