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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

What Does the Tetris Effect Have to Do With You?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 4th 2010

tetrisYou may or may not remember the game Tetris, but it had such a significant impact on people’s thoughts that it even attained its own phenomena called the Tetris Effect. The Tetris Effect is when people spend enough of their attention on any one thing and it begins to overshadow their thoughts, images, dreams and I’ll say perceptions about things. In the case of Tetris, kids and adults began seeing things in daily life in the form of Tetris shapes and seeing how they fit together. It just becomes a habit. Why is this critical to your life?

We spend an enormous amount of unintentional attention on all kinds of things in daily life as habit. I wonder what the Facebook Effect or Twitter Effect might be. Is the mind seeing events at work or in personal life as a status update?

How about the amount of attention we give to worrying or rehashing past life events? Is it possible that we start adopting a worried or depressed lens as a habit and view all areas of life through this lens?

In previous posts I’ve said how neuroscience has concluded that how we pay attention and what we pay attention to has enormous effects on how our brains grow (Neuroplasticity). Can the Tetris Effect actually reshape our brains and is this in the direction of helping us or hindering us?

The biggest question is if the Tetris Effect is real, which I think you’d find it is if you spend enough time playing Tetris, is there a way to strategically use this effect to help us in our daily lives?

I’m in the camp that says, absolutely.

It’s time to put on the conductor’s hat and take the wheel of this train we call our mind. We can notice when our minds are circling the bad neighborhoods and choose to take another road. If we want the Tetris Effect to work we have to understand the first rule, lots of interest, practice and repetition.

So what if today you practiced looking for the Good in people? What if today you practiced looking for the Good in yourself?

This isn’t an effort to ignore the difficulties in life, you’ll be plenty aware of those still not to worry. This is in an effort to use the Tetris Effect to help us in our lives.

In the beginning you might begin seeing subtle results and then over time, they’ll become a bit more apparent.  Who knows, maybe you’re even changing your brain for good!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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