So there I was with a man who had just shown me his Sheep Dogs, and demonstrated how he can call them from afar with simple commands to go and bring in the sheep. It was time to pay, and I was sitting in his living room. I looked on the counter, and there was a picture with my guide, with an attractive lady, and a little boy.
Assuming it was his family pictured, I thought to myself, “His wife is pretty.” Not amazing, mind you, just attractive.
As I stood waiting for him to return with my change, he came back in, and said, “What do you think of the picture of me, my son, and Jennifer Aniston,” and pointed to the picture I had noticed. As he explained that he had been the trainer when she was in town filming Marley and Me, it really hit me how things taken out of context create an entirely different reality.
What was interesting was that not only did I not recognize Jennifer until he pointed it out to me, once he mentioned it, it was impossible to mistake. After all, why would some random person in the middle of nowhere – really the middle of nowhere – have a picture with someone I would know, or even a movie star? So my mind took that out of the options as I saw the picture, until it had more information, and then things were clear.
I took away a lesson from this event, that we really see life with a constant filter on. Our brain, puts on the appropriate filter, and makes assumptions about what we see, without us even realizing that this is going on in the background.
The impact of this, is that we are often not even in touch with our own reality – and often we can miss events that may impact us due to lack of this cognition.