Insights: The Black Dot

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Have you heard about the story of the black dot?  If not, here is an abridged version:

A professor gave his students a surprise test.  He tells the students to write about what they see on the paper he has passed out, which only showed a black dot. All of the students wrote about the black dot. No one wrote about the white part of the paper.

The moral of the story is that the same happens in our lives. We tend to focus on the dark parts of our lives rather than the bright parts. When we focus on the black dots in our lives, we do not see the magnitude of the white paper. This does not mean we do not give some energy to the black dots, but we also focus on the good in our lives.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is a manager for a large company.  Every time I talked to him he would complain about one of the other managers.  It was not only consuming him but also affecting his self-esteem, what he focused on when he got home from work and caused a lot of stress.  When we talked about this concept, he looked at me like a light bulb had turned on and said “you are right, I am focused on the black dots.” He reached out a few weeks later saying this one concept has changed how he is in the world.

Buddah once said “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

How does this work? What we think about determines what we focus on, what we focus on becomes our beliefs about that world, which in turn determines how we feel. How we feel influences how we act, which then determines our thoughts.

It is powerful to realize and grasp this concept. How do you see this concept affecting your life? Whatever happens in life, we have a choice how we respond to it through our thoughts, through our actions. It is less about what happens to us and more about how we respond.

We have to watch that voice inside of us that can be critical, deciding if that voice is our friend or our foe. Imagine having someone in your life that was with you all the time that was judging you, saying “why did you do that,” “you’re so stupid,” “why would they want to be with you?”

Recognize any of these voices? I am sure if you treated a friend this way they would not stick around for long. So be your own best friend. Be your own biggest cheerleader. Where do you think your negative thoughts are going to get you? They are a waste of time and energy. You are responsible for your thoughts, for your feelings and for your actions. Own them and make the choice to be kind and compassionate towards yourself. Then it will be easier to be kind and compassionate towards others.

Leadership speaker Robin S. Sharma said “What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.”

Author Zig Ziglar once wrote “When you focus on problems, you get more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities.”

Pay attention to the black dots, but don’t let them control your life. After all, we are surrounded by a lot of white.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].





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