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Your Brain’s Greatest Blind Spot to Happiness

As fabulous as our brains are, they have their blind spots to happiness. Our brains are wired to chunk data and make things routine so we can handle more complex tasks. But what happens when it applies this method to other human beings or even the people who are dearest to us? When we feel connected, we feel balanced and happy. When we feel disconnected, we feel imbalanced and often unhappy. A little while ago New York Rescue mission tried out a little experiment to see just how invisible the homeless are to most of us. What they found will touch your heart and has implications for all our relationships. 

Here is a short 3-minute video of their experiment:

In the video you’ll see:

  • People agreed to pose as a homeless person.
  • Then, they had their unsuspecting relatives (wife, sister, cousin, grandson) walk by.
  • The relatives didn’t even notice their loved ones.

Underneath every human being is a need for belonging.

We all have a need to feel cared about, to be understood, to be accepted.

Whether it’s someone who is homeless, a friend, a cousin, a sister, a brother, parents or grandparents, our brains begin to objectify them and often times forget the common humanity that binds us.

Right now, break out of this routine and open your mind to these three questions:

  1. Who are you grateful for?
  2. Why are you grateful for them?
  3. How do you express your gratitude? (This is the part that is often left out, yet the most critical).

Make a commitment right now or at some point today to express it and see if you notice feeling a bit happier.

Our brain’s greatest blind spot may be that it is wired to make everything in object. But we have to remember that everyone is worthy of love and belonging (including ourselves). Choosing that is a conscious choice and that starts with mindfulness.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

PS – For fun, if you want to try out a little experiment to see beyond the object and experience the commonalities behind you and other people in your life, even a homeless person,  try the 2-minute “Just Like Me” practice.

Your Brain’s Greatest Blind Spot to Happiness

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2014). Your Brain’s Greatest Blind Spot to Happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 May 2014
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