To do List: 4. Frequency Illusion

I recently heard a lady speak about Frequency Illusion at the Tedx Gateway event and it blew my mind. It blew my mind because this phenomenon has happened to me so many times in the past, but I never knew it has a scientific name to it.

According to Gravity Ideas, ‘Frequency Illusion, also known as the Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon, is a cognitive bias which describes our tendency to see new information, names, ideas or patterns ‘everywhere’ soon after they’re first brought to our attention.”

So let me explain that, do you remember reading or hearing or watching about a new car on the market or a new type of therapy or technology and then suddenly you start spotting it or reading about it everywhere.  Well, that is frequency illusion.

This Wiki article explains that it happens because our brain has prejudice towards patterns. When the brain detects that an element of information appears more than once, the brain uses the repetitions to form a possible sequence, meanwhile dismissing everything that is not repeating as irrelevant information.

Well, thanks for that Tina! But what’s that got to do with you, your list and me, you ask?

Well here is my take on this theory, I have been learning from a person very dear to me,  how to see good in people and situation. This level of positivity and relinquishing the need to be correct and to see the good side of things is not easy to do.

I mean, first of all, there is the personal ego we all carry.  Secondly, when you have a few hard knocks, you tend to be wary of people and try to segregate them into types and categories. Thirdly, when something happens to your child, you turn into Mama bear. You anticipate and you prepare, you agonise over details and meaning of everything. What happens on the way is that, you become hard, which is not always a bad thing, but that’s a topic for another day.

But what if we/ I see kindness and goodness around me and recognise it as something unique and lovely and see if frequency illusion can do its work.

What If I see the progress in my child every single day.

What If I see people in my life make time for me.

What If I see the kindness of the rickshawala who got down in pouring rain to cover both the doors of the rick so that my child and I would stay dry.

What if I see the light ignite in my child’s eyes when she wants to dance in the rain.

What If I could see the tired father enter the house with a smile on his face and whistle on his lips.

What If I see random strangers going out of their way to put a smile on our face.

What If I see how a kind word and smile to a waiter in a Dhaba brings so much kindness and personal attention.

What If I see the couple making a tight schedule work so that the kids are never alone.

What If I see a grandchild hugging a grandfather setting off tears.

What If I see women reinforce each other.

What If I see the endless good in me.

What If I choose to see the good and dismiss the occasional bad incidents.

They say the brain never stops learning, new synaptic connections happen and with repetition, it becomes a habit. So why not make seeing good in people a habit. I think it’s worth a try.

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