Spilled Milk and a Mental Model

It's spilled milk but it's also a lobster claw. 

It's spilled milk but it's also a lobster claw. 

I love pareidolia. I love the word. I love how people’s eyebrows furrow when I say “The Pareidolia Project” and I love when, after I explain what pareidolia is, people smile and say: "I understand! That’s cool. I’m not crazy. I do that!

Pareidolia is finding recognizable images in random shapes and patterns (think cloud watching or the man on the moon) and it comes naturally to some. For others, who say they don’t think that way, it can be learned.

Creativity is certainly most associated with artists but don’t let that stop you from learning and utilizing its magic qualities. The more creatively you view your world, the more “mind-flexible” you become. The more you explore past what you know, the more expansive life becomes.

I recently read an article by James Clear about Mental Models. (James writes about habits, health and creativity. Check him out here.) The article was about the physicist Richard Reynman and how he was known for his ability to solve problems that no one else could. One of the reasons was because Richard had developed a mental model (a way of looking at the world) that was a unique. Therefore, when his contemporaries were stuck on a formula (because they were all trying to solve it with the same mental models - the same way of looking at the problem), Richard consistently peered through a different lens and was able to identify and solve the mysteries.

"If you read all the same books that your peers read then you’ll all have the same thoughts." James Clear


So, you know what? The next time your kid (or you) spills some milk, take a look at it before you sweep in and sop it up. In fact, ask your child what s/he sees. React not to what you already "know" but think about what could possibly "be". Your child will be enchanted watching you having fun. What a different mental model than the crisis-mode, time out and exasperated sigh.

The Pareidolia Project guides you through re-thinking what you see. It helps you shake up your assumptions and dust off your curiosity. Practice seeing things through a different lens; it’s a great way to build a mental model or two.