Seeing Green

20060210075705_img_0270Don’t look around. Just stare straight at these words and try to remember all the green objects around you. No peeking. Got your list? Now look and count all the objects around you that are categorically green. Didn’t notice how many green things were around you before, did you…

This is a simple test which proves a simple point: You will not necessarily see the things that you are not looking for. Conversely, you will see the things that you are looking for.  It is called ‘The Green Test’ and it was presented to me by one of my colleagues 1. The main point I pull from it is that if I am actively looking for something I will see more of it! Here’s a real life example. Have you had the experience of shopping for a new vehicle and then you become aware of how many of those cars are on the road? When we bought a silver car manufactured by a particular automobile industry, I was amazed by how many other similar brands of cars we passed in the following week. Obviously many people decided that week to buy that same car, right? Uhm…

Now, take this principle and apply it to your close relationships. If you are looking for the things that irritate you – you will find them. If you have recently been offended by someone, chances are you will continue to feel this offense in various forms in the next while and you will continually feel offended and hurt. Conversely, if you are actively looking for the good characteristics in your relationships – you will also find these attributes.  And if you are focusing on a particular thing that you really appreciate in your relationships chances are you will see them more often than you realized before.

At one particular juncture in my marriage I became keenly aware of how hard my husband worked. I often say that my hubby doesn’t have a lazy bone in his body and I can clearly remember the time in our marriage when I recognized the amount of energy he gave to tasks. Because this was the ‘green’ I started looking for, my whole perception of him shifted.  I saw his work ethic expressed in all types of ways; how he got the day going immediately after the morning alarm clock woke him up, how his dishes ended up in the dishwasher and his clothes rarely were left lying around. I saw how he gave full effort not only to his career but also to his volunteer efforts. I saw how the family benefited by his high level of intensity. Had he changed? Nope.  I noticed things that I had taken for granted or just never recognized. I did ‘The Green Test’.

Now, I can just as easily point out that the green test can also bring out negative aspects. My husband could count the times I hit snooze button before I tumble out of bed and he could focus on my pile of cloths or the plethora of coffee cups scattered around the house. Green is neutral in itself; what it represents provides the response on how you ‘color’ it.

Look around! What ‘green’ are you going to see today? As we start the New Year I would heartily wish you all the best in choosing to focus on the attributes that will enrich your relationships. This might mean focusing on the good characteristics that you might have taken for granted in this last while. Or, it could mean recognizing some patterns of behavior that are destructive to your relationships. There are many hues of green and you will be amazed by how much you will see once you start looking for it.

Need some help focusing on the ‘green’ around you? Check out this advice:

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

1. Neal Black. I have learned a lot from this man. He and his wife have co-spoken with my husband and I at FamilyLife events. Check out more interesting stuff from him

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