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The Red Car Theory

By July 12, 2022Musings

Suppose, for a moment, that you’re thinking about buying a car.

You’re out for a country drive and there you see a beautiful vintage red car.

You’ve never thought about buying a red car, never even paid attention to red cars, but on your drive home and for days afterward, the only thing you see on the road are red cars.

Oh, they’ve always been there.

You just haven’t noticed them.


Because they weren’t predominately in your frame of reference. They hadn’t found that place and space of importance in your brain. They hadn’t been significant, meaningful or top-of-shelf priority.

And there’s a name for it: the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It’s really a cognitive bias whereby when we’ve seen something or experienced something for the first time, our awareness of it is increased.

Now think about the number of things we pass by every day, not noticing them because they don’t have “meaning”.

They aren’t significant because we’re really not present.

Our minds are elsewhere, hurrying and scurrying to the next thing. Barely slowing down enough to remember what it was that we were supposed to do, where we left those keys, and what was it that I went into that room for?

We bounce between thoughts of the past and fears or expectation of the future, never really settling in the present moment.

We’re too busy to “be”. To fully engage with the moment we’re living, at the moment, in the moment.

It takes time to take time, but often, it takes just a few moments to:

Observe the bee that just landed on the flower.

See the person. Really see them, and smile.

Take a photo, not for the outcome, but for the process.

One of my favourite books is “Living the Moment”, and the closing line concludes with “live this Moment, nobly, passionately and with love”. A fine idea.

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