“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” -Oscar Wilde

A group of researchers paid participants to do nothing but play Tetris for three days. In this game the goal is to fit various blocks together without leaving empty space. Participants reported that for days after the experiment they were stuck in the “Tetris” mindset, mentally calculating how buildings or furniture or bricks in a wall could be shifted and rotated to fit together.

This phenomenon has been written about extensively by Harvard Professor Shawn Achor in his intriguing book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work and he has nicknamed it “The Tetris Effect”. He has found that it plays out in our daily lives as well. For instance, accountants spend much of their day searching for errors in tax documents and this results in a tendency to focus on problems rather than blessings in their personal lives.

Similarly, second year medical students spend countless hours learning to diagnose diseases and many end up convinced that they themselves are suffering from rare abnormalities. They can’t get out of the diagnosing mindset.

What is a mindset or way of thinking that you must commonly adopt in your job or studies and how might this carry over into your personal or family life?


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