During some of my presentations, I take an 8 1/2 x 11
piece of white paper and make a little black dot in the
middle. Then I show the sheet to people in the
audience and ask them what they see. The majority
will say that they see a black dot. Very few, if
any, will tell me that they see a white sheet of paper
with a tiny black dot.
We tend to look at our lives in very much the same
way. We have our health, enough food to eat, a job
that pays the bills and allows us some leisure
activities, but we don't focus on that. We don't
Instead, we concentrate on the tiny black dot - the 10%
in our lives that we don't like. . . or the things we
wish we could change. By concentrating on the 10%
that represents our problems or things we don't like, we
develop a negative attitude and feel lousy. Plus,
there's a universal principle that comes into play: we
attract what we think about most.
By focusing on what is lacking in our lives, we create
more experiences of scarcity.
Think about your life. Are you paying too much
attention to the 10% that isn't what you want it to be,
as opposed to the 90% that's going well? I'm not
saying we should ignore our challenges or things we'd
like to change. But if we paid a lot more
attention to the 90% that IS working, we'd have a better
attitude and we'd get better results.
When it comes to your job, do you concentrate on all the
positive aspects of your position, or do you gripe about
your salary and your co-workers, or the fact that
someone else got the promotion you wanted?
What about the basic necessities of life? Do you
feel gratitude every day for the food you eat, the
clothing you have, the roof above your head, or do you
take all of these things for granted? Worse yet,
do you complain that you don't have more?
And let's not forget your body and your health.
How much time do you spend thinking about what IS
working? Your body is a miracle, make no mistake
about that. There's nothing "ho-hum"
about your body and its day to day operation.
Albert Einstein once said that there are two ways to
live your life: one way is as though nothing is a
miracle; the other is as though everything is a miracle.
Most of us walk around with a ho-hum attitude about the
miracle of our bodies. We treat this amazing creation as
if it's no big deal.
Consider this: your heart is only the size of a
fist and yet it pumps blood through your body.
Every day, the heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood
and beats about 100,000 times. That's just in one
In one year, that amounts to 36,500,000 beats. And
in most cases, the heart just keeps on beating
36,500,000 times a year for many decades. Stop for
a moment and recognize the enormity of this miracle.
And, of course, you don't have to change any body parts
or beat your chest manually to keep your heart
going. It automatically beats and sends the blood
through your body with no effort on your part.
Now, let's consider your brain. The brain and
spinal cord are made up of many cells, which include
neurons. There are about 100 billion neurons in
the brain. 100 billion! Neurons are nerve
cells that transmit nerve signals to and from the brain
at up to 200 miles per hour. Isn't this amazing?
Of course, your ears. . . your eyes. . . well, I could
go on all day about the miracle of your body and how we
take it for granted. Just one final example to
drive the point home.
When you get a cold and have difficulty breathing for a
few days, I bet you'll often tell everyone that you are
congested and don't feel well. When the cold
clears up in a week and your breathing returns to
normal, you probably don't say: "My breathing
is perfect today! I'm able to get all the oxygen I
need!" Why does it make sense to complain
about your breathing for the one week it is impaired. .
. while failing to acknowledge the other 51 weeks when
your breathing is full and healthy?
Stop taking this incredible body for granted.
Appreciate all the things that ARE working! You're
a walking miracle, and part of an extraordinary
Some of you may feel that ignoring the black dot is not
the answer--and that you need to focus on the
black dot to improve certain conditions in your
life. Well, if you choose this route, here are
three strategies you could use:
1. Worry about the black dot.
2. Complain about the black dot.
3. Take some proactive steps to eliminate or
reduce the black dot.
The only strategy that makes sense is #3. Yet many
people select strategies #1 and #2, which only makes
them more miserable.
Be brutally honest with yourself. Are there any
areas of your life where you're ignoring the large white
sheet and seeing only the tiny black dot? Do you
see the faults of those at work or at home, and seldom
affirm people for their positive contributions to your
life? If you're like most of us, you have an
abundance of blessings, yet you're often blind to them.
If you've been staring at some tiny black dots recently,
take responsibility for that. And recognize that
nobody is forcing you to keep your eyes on the black
dot. You've developed the habit of focusing on the
negative and your life (and the lives of those around
you) will be greatly enriched if you start to shift your
vision toward the white sheet.
You have a choice. You can keep staring at the
black dot and telling others about all the things that
are wrong in your life, or you can begin to appreciate
your many blessings. Sounds like a pretty easy
choice to make, doesn't it?