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Train Your Eyes to See Color, Again

Photo by Marina Burity

There are many reasons why we don’t always get what we want. One of these reasons is because we focus on the opposite of what we want. Sometimes, we just can’t help it. But, if we are conscious of our thoughts, we can intercept these thoughts and shift our frame of mind towards our desired goals.

Have you ever been particularly annoyed by a person or situation? The more we complain about it, the more we notice it. The more we notice it, the worse it becomes. The next time we interact with that person or situation, we almost expect to be annoyed and thus subconsciously look for those small triggers that’ll make us annoyed.

In a similar example of an opposite scenario: Have you ever shopped for a particular kind of car which you’ve never noticed before? For example, a black SmartCar or a silver Toyota Prius. And suddenly, you see them everywhere? Similarly, have you shopped for a particular piece of clothing, let’s say a blazer style jacket for the spring, and suddenly you notice them everywhere?

Whether we focus on things we want or do not want, the truth is that What we focus on expands.

From my experience, dreams do come true, for the sole reason that the more you focus on something, the more of it you’ll notice and you’ll be particularly sensitive to opportunities that’ll come your way which will allow your dreams to become your reality.

Try It For Yourself! A Simple Exercise

Not convinced of what I’m saying? That’s cool. I still like you. :) But before you throw your hands up, try this simple yet powerful exercise. It’s so simple, you could do it anywhere.

1. Next time you are walking or driving somewhere, or sitting on the bus or a car. Remember to do this.

2. Pick a color and focus on it. Look for that color in your field of vision as you’re moving about. For example, focus on the color red.

3. Do this for several minutes. Do you notice this color in so many places?

4. Pick another color and focus on it. Forget about the first color, just focus on the second. For example, try the color green.

5. Continue for several minutes. Scan your surroundings. Do you suddenly notice your second color popping up everywhere?

6. Repeat several times using different colors each time.

Pretty cool huh? As simple or as silly this may sound, it’s a powerful exercise that I like to play around with. Each time we shift our focus on a new color, it feels like a shift in vision, or putting on special glasses that only filters this color.

I first learned about this cute technique from my mother. We were in the car and I was particularly annoyed about something and I started acting like an unreasonable child. She used this exercise to remind me that focusing on thoughts of frustration will only makes our frustrations stronger. I was deeply touched by the experience. I learned that we can proactively shift our thoughts by shifting our focus. A shift in our thoughts will shift our emotions, almost instantly.


Practices in Real Life

So, how can I put this into practice? Great question! There are many situations where you can benefit by putting your power of focus into practice. The following are some practical suggestions.

  • Annoying People – It’s inevitable that we will interact with people who frustrate us. Instead of focusing on why they are frustrating us or the feelings of frustration, focus on things we admire about them. It might take some practice, but start it the next time you are in their presence. Look for things you like about them and what you admire about them. Perhaps they have nice shoes, or a nice smile, or their work ethic is admirable. Focus on that and look for more to focus on.
  • Frustrating Situations – When situations do not favor our expectations, it can be super frustrating. But, the more we think about how annoyed we are, the more red-eyed and anger-consumed we become, which is not helping the situation or your health. Focus on the positives of a situation. Make an effort to pick them out. I know this can be tough to do, but just start. Look for things that you learned or enjoyed about the situation.A personal story: More than a year ago, I traveled from Tibet to Nepal with my friends Jonathan and his wife Soyan. What should have been an easy 4 hour cab ride into the capital turned into a 10 hour ordeal resulting in 6 separate rides that got us into the city safely. It was a deeply frustrating and stressful situation, but amongst it all, we got to see the warmth of people from rural Nepal, and had a unique and enriching cultural experience.
  • Feeling Sick – When we don’t feel physically well, do you notice that we like to tell ourselves that we’re not feeling well? We like to tell anyone at any opportunity that “I’m sick”. While you are entitled to saying anything you like, what will actually help you get better is by focusing on being healthy. Enjoy this time as your body rests and recovers. Focus on the image of you in perfect health.
  • ‘I Hate My Job’ – I’ve heard of this from many others and have repeated it myself when the moments get rough. The result is always the same: as I find more reasons to dislike my job, I feel even more discontent. In these moments, I have a tendency to forget just how lucky and privileged I am to have such a job. My focus on the pain puts into a negative downward spiral.Start to pick out and focus on things you enjoy about your job and all the wonderful opportunities you are afforded through it. Create a list of personal benefits from your job, and then focus on each point. For example: financial security, time flexibility, creative expression, feeling of empowerment when completing a project, inspirational co-workers, learning opportunities, chances to help others, health insurance, stock options, etc.
  • Jealousy of Other People – When we judge other people as better off than we are, it becomes easy to get caught up in feelings of jealousy, which are self-destructive. Instead of focusing on why others are undeserving, choose to understand what makes them deserving. Highlight what they’ve done well and reasons why they have been successful. Now use these insights as a source of inspiration to help yourself excel.
  • Stuck at the Airport, Missing a Flight or Losing Your Luggage – Most problems with traveling are frustrating experiences, especially when leaving home already puts us outside of our comfort zone. Focusing on how frustrating it is will only make us feel worse, and only for yourself. Focus on qualities that are empowering about the experience. How can you make the experience a positive one? For example, you can perhaps focus on:
    • “I have an extra few hours to catch up on reading.”
    • This has become a really great opportunity to meet a new friend.
    • “At least I’m still alive. I’m breathing and all. The flight delay is to ensure my safety and I am thankful for that.”
    • “Yes, delaying my luggage is inconvenient, but at least they’ll deliver it for free and I don’t have to wait at the airport for them.”
  • ‘I don’t have enough time for…” – Have you heard of yourself start a sentence like this? And then waste time on unproductive tasks like browsing the web, chatting with a friend, writing verbose emails, channel surfing on the TV. I’ve been there! You and I both know it is an excuse to avoid doing something we don’t want to do. (*wink*) If something was important enough, we can create time to make it happen. Instead of saying “I don’t have enough time for X” and then brushing it off, practice saying “How can I create time to do X?”, “How can I make this a reality? How can I free some time from my schedule?”.
  • Fear of Failure – The more we focus on the object of our fear, the more powerful the feeling is. Life rarely turns out as bad as we anticipate. Focusing on the worst possible outcome is extremely stressful. Whether it’s asking someone out on a date, or giving a presentation to an audience, it does not help to tell yourself that “I’m afraid I’m going to fail” or “What if I’ll look stupid? I might as well not try.” Instead, focus on what it is that you do want. Focus, by repeating what you want in a present tense statement. Example, “I am confident and knowledgeable about this topic and I can give a kick ass presentation. It’s a breeze!”

Similarly, see if you can apply the same principle to these situations:

  • Losing Weight
  • Losing Money
  • Getting a Date
  • Waiting on a phone line for an operator

I hope this simple skill of focus will add to your emotional mastery tool box and help you for many years to come. Please share your experiences with us when you have a chance.

What do you think about the focus exercise above? Any thoughts or stories on the power of focus from your own experience? We’d love to hear from you. Talk to us in the comments.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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104 thoughts on Train Your Eyes to See Color, Again

  1. Great post Tina!

    I would like to add your point on annoying people, besides looking at things you admire, you can also learn from them, observe their annoying behaviors, wonder why they do it and what kind of outcomes it brings for them, find something not to do, and learn from their mistake.

    In that case, you will understand them better, and learn for your own benefit. This also what I learned from T. Harv Eker’s book, Secret of Millionaire Mind.

    My full post here Lessons of difficult people

    Thanks for sharing with us such a great technique, it’s truly that what we focus expands!


  2. Amai

    I agree with Simon…. sometimes it is challenging to look into the reality (what I call “our dark side”), but worth it at the end if you work on it!

    ; ) Amai

  3. Great job Tina. A sort of variation of “you get what you pay for.”

    Instead, you get what you focus on.

    Don’t forget the other sensory modalities. For example, if you are starting an exercise program, you’ll get a more accurate input if you “feel” what that’s going to be like than if you visualize it.

    Keep up the good work.



    Nice! I’m gonna have to quote you Harry, “A variation of you get what you pay for: you get what you focus on.” + ” So focus on something you actually want.”


  4. I love this post Tina.
    I agree with what Simon said. It’s important to examine but the positive and negative aspects of something. That’s how we acheive balance. It’s also how we change the things we need to in our lives.

  5. Great post! I agree that what we focus on expands. One thought is to get more in touch with our own hearts. In this way its a moving away from the outer experience and a return to an inner beauty and depth

    Our heart’s have a wisdom that defies logic. By relying more on our heart we can avoid the need to over manage our outer environment- not that we shouldn’t actively try to change our lives, but if we can learn not to be so preoccupied with outcomes it can give us more peace.

    Check out this post on my blog if you like.

  6. Color is in they eyes of the beholder. Colors are just triggers in your brain going off so concentrate and watch the world come alive. This can be a trained process

  7. Neat, Tina. Colors…interesting. In college I took a class in Perception and learned a neat exercise, kind of the opposite of this in the sense that you can reverse what you see ( see less of something) to see something different. Take a look at the moon on the horizon when it is really big. It really isn’t that big–our brain thinks it is because our brain registers the sky to be shaped like an upside down bowl so we think it is closer, which means to our brains that it is bigger. Then take a look at the same moon through a paper towel roll. It will look small like it does high up in the sky because we no longer have the bowl shaped sky to refer to. Somebody told me not to do this too much or else the moon will never look big again on the horizon. Do this at your own risk.

  8. Trevor

    This also reminds me a game I often play with my family and friends on long car rides or while waiting for food at a restaurant called ‘I Spy.’ Basically, two people take turns guessing what object of a given color the other has in mind. “I spy something .” In fact the phenomenon you describe is precisely what makes the game interesting/tough; you end up noticing a ton of objects of the given color and it usually takes quite a few guesses (sometimes even when you know your opponent very well, and especially when they know you know them and avoid familiar objects purposely!)

    Anyways, thanks for a great article and thanks to the other commenters for your insight, cheers!

  9. The Count

    I agree with the post, and have used the technique with myself and my family. Society is so negative, as one can see in the media. Women are supposed to hate their bodies, grey hair is ugly, wrinkles are foul, cellulite is disgusting, etc. If a person likes herself, she is considered vain and those with less elf-esteem find and point out any and all flaws (“What is there to like about HER? She’s fat, she has a big nose, she’s obnoxious. I’m soooo much skinnier than she is. Ewww, I wouldn’t want to be like her!”). Although dealing with negative issues does need to be done in some cases, focusing on so much negativity is detrimental.
    In a negative situation, such as driving behind a really slow person when you are in a hurry, you can focus on the negativity and get angry (road rage), or you can tell yourself, “Hmmm, this is frustrating, how can I diffuse my frustration?” In such situations my family would always play a game, “George and Martha”. We’d pretend George was the driver of the slow car, and Martha his “backseat driver”. We would then carry on the supposed conversation taking place in the car ahead of us, and I can tell you, with three teenagers in tow, it can get very funny (“George, you idiot, you want this road right here!” –car brakes, slows down to read the street sign, speeds up–“Martha you old toad, are you blind?!” etc., you get the drift). So you focus instead on the humor of the situation instead of the frustration.
    I have to disagree with the posters who suggest focusing on the negative. Having lived through hell, I became a very bitter person. After attending a lecture by a psychology professor, I discovered that the person we are is the person we choose to be. I started finding things to like about myself, and discovered there was actually much to like about me, as well as some things to change. That awareness made me determine what kind of person I wanted to be (and angry and bitter was not what I wanted to be). Today, I am the person I am (and the person I want to be) because of the hell I went through, and would not change that because it has led me to become more compassionate, patient, and empathic, which are my strongest personality traits. Those strengths led to my choosing my profession. I no longer carry around baggage, which is what you do when you focus on the negative. Once you drop the baggage, you can move forward and change. If you don’t like a situation (your job, for example) it doesn’t mean you have to stay there. You have control over your own life, and you can look for something you like to do better (and you’ll wonder why you stayed at that job you hated in the first place). But in the meantime, you can change your focus to a more positive one, which will actually make changing jobs much easier.
    My focus today is to look for a “special” gift every day. It may be a beautiful sunrise, a flower blooming where one had not been, a snow-devil, a rainbow, church bells, my favorite old song on the radio, pretty much anything which brings a smile to my face. I then say, “Thank you,” to acknowledge my awareness of the gift. I can tell you, if you expect and look for one every day, you will find one. I’d much rather live in the moment and enjoy a treasure, than focus on the negative and destructive.

  10. Tina –

    Thanks for such a lovely post. I am opening my eyes again, discovering the world with a childlike sense of wonder and my life is beautiful.

    I nominated you for a Thinking Blogger award.

    Many blessings –

  11. Emma

    Great post. I’ve only read a few of your posts after clicking a link in Digg.

    I’ve found this to be true myself in the past. When I became pregnant the world seemed to be full of pregnant women! They’ve all disapeared now – but the number of women with children has increased. I love the fact this can be used for us. I will try the colour trick next time I get bored and frustrated – and teach it to my son.


  12. Maria Dalva

    Wow! Such a great text! Thanks for sharing! It’s soooo true!
    Just found your blog, it’s really amazing! Congratulations! :o)
    ~ A brazilian reader ;o)

  13. Its nice that you offer an exercise for your readers to participate more actively. Perhaps we’re always expanding our perspective, learning to see new colors, and realizing we’re always getting what we ultimately want? These true desires are hidden in our subconscious and may differ from what our ego and conscious mind come to believe.

  14. This is an excellent article. Nice to remember to look for positive things in life because you will find them. Look for you dreams and you will find them.

    Truly inspiring!

  15. Sounds like somebody’s read Covey’s 7 Habits! Great post from a great source.


  16. I think it was Yoda who said this first. “Your focus determines your reality.” Or was it Mr. Miyagi, or maybe Kierkegaard? ;-)

    At anyrate, thank you for the excellent exercise.

  17. Bud

    “The mind can make a heaven out of hell and a heaven out of hell’
    I am looking forward to do what you suggested.

  18. Bud

    second day at your site, have to say it has my attention. for 30+ years i have been just about tracing your steps. looking for that one self help book to do it.

    I have learn a lot along the way but still searching and trying different things. One book I really liked was “how to start living and stop worrying”. when i look back most book have about the same message, that are worth anything. i don’t read the bible really but had moments reading it and most of what i read in the self help books was in the bible,just not written in an interesting way.

  19. jd

    Tina – This reminds me of two of my favorite sayings:
    1. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you aren’t going to see it.
    2 You see whatever you point your camera at (you direct your life)

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