Break Free From the Focusing Illusion

Feeling stressed? Anxious? Remember the words of Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman: “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.” 

Kahneman proved three decades ago that focusing on a particular thing exaggerates the importance of that thing simply because you’re thinking about it. He called this the focusing illusion. Further, the focusing illusion makes matters worse when we happen to be fixating on anything negative.

Our tendency is to blow out of proportion the gravity of whatever is upsetting us when we think about it too often or too much. The key is not to let any negative event monopolize our focus. Play a game, watch a movie, read a book, cook a meal. Refocus your attention on anything other than what is causing you stress. Perspective matters, but what matters most is what you allow yourself to think about.