Have you seen the video of people, wearing white or black shirts, passing a basketball back and forth? Viewers must count how many times the ball is passed by those in white shirts.
And even though they are concentrating, they completely miss the obvious.
While viewers are looking for the basketball, a woman in a gorilla suit walks into the middle of the players. She faces the camera, beats her chest and walks away. Half the viewers in the original demonstration completely missed the gorilla.
Researchers call it “inattentional blindness.” It’s a type of invisibility. Not based on the eyes, but on the mind. We don’t notice something, simply because we’re not looking for it.
Well, in real life, one of the main things we don’t notice is how unkind and even mean we can be every single day. I discovered that in my latest research study, and it was sobering. Since most of us think we are kind, we completely miss the ways we aren’t.
For example, in the study, we asked people to say how often they praised a particular person, how often they were negative and unkind to them, and so on. They then spent 30 days trying to have no negativity toward that person at all, and being purposeful about kindness (this was the 30-Day Kindness Challenge). At the end, we asked whether their initial guesses were realistic or not.
The vast majority (95%) said they suddenly realized they had been blind before!
In particular, they had no idea how negative and unkind they were, until they weren’t allowed to be. In the survey feedback, most participants said something like this one woman: “This was a little humbling and very eye-opening. I had no idea how often I got exasperated, how much I corrected my husband, how bad my tone could be. How embarrassing. I’m SO GLAD for the chance to finally see that stuff, so I can get rid of it!”
I think it is time for all of us to “see that stuff” so we can get rid of it!
How? Take these three steps:
STEP ONE: Take a simple (free) online assessment of your Kindness Quotient. Now, you could be a mini-Mother Theresa, of course, and truly one of the kindest people around. But for most of us, this assessment is a good wake-up call about those areas we might want to focus on.