Don’t Let Your Blind Spots Distort Reality

The “blind spot” is the area in the back of the eyeball that lacks receptors and thus cannot absorb the light coming into the eye. We’re not consciously aware of these gaps because our brains literally invent information that fills in our fields of vision.

Similarly, in Before Happiness, I wrote that we all have mental blind spots that warp our perspective about aspects of our lives or work, impairing our decision-making and judgment. Here are two common examples:

• When you face a big challenge, are you blind to the ways other people could help you? Do you always try things alone? People with this blind spot lose connection to their social support networks in the midst of challenges when they should be investing more heavily in their support systems.

• Are you blind to your emotions at work, focusing only on your team? Are you good at seeing how others lose perspective because of their egos or anxieties but have difficulty seeing past your own ego or anxiety? People with this blind spot are quick to judge, even though they are modeling negative behavior.

The best corrective lens is a different set of eyes. Find a partner—someone who has a different personality, background and/or position—who can offer another perspective. Meet for coffee monthly and give each other permission to shed light on each other’s blind spots. The more light you let in, the more possibilities you will perceive for success.

Find out how to create your “personal" board of directors—a group of people whose advice you can seek on important personal and professional matters, who always keep your head on straight.


Shawn Achor is a Harvard-trained researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. Get a daily dose of happy at Shawn's Facebook page.

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