Eye Contact

I’ve noticed over the years that I don’t often make eye contact with the people I’m talking to. I’ve often wondered why that is. I read an article recently, (five minute read) about research done on this subject. You can find it here. Basically, the article states, that it’s hard to think, while maintaining eye contact. It’s an interesting idea and I’ve found that for me at least, it’s accurate. I know this about myself because for years now, I have practiced what’s known as mindfulness.

Mindfulness, something I’ve written about on this blog, is a technique used to focus your mind on the here and now. It’s a meditation trick that has been used for centuries to keep your mind from wandering so you can meditate properly. If I stand at my kitchen sink and wash the dishes (which I do by hand) my mind will easily wander to all sort of places because washing dishes is so mind numbingly boring that it’s a hard thing to concentrate on. If I actively focus my eyes on the dish I’m washing, my mind doesn’t wander. Focusing your eyes keeps your mind focused on exactly what you’re looking at. Think about driving your car. You’re going down the road, maybe coming home from work, and you’re thinking about making dinner. Or maybe you’re thinking about something someone said to you, or how you handled a situation. You’re not actively thinking about driving. If you notice this happening, you should also notice that while you’re doing it, your eyes are not focused on the road. Scary, isn’t it? You might be looking out the windshield, but you’re not focusing.

Now, try driving with your eyes focused on the road. You’ll find that when they are, you’re not thinking about anything but driving. You should also notice that you’ll only be able to do it for a few seconds until your mind wanders. And your mind will wander as soon as your eyes go out of focus. This is why meditating is difficult for people. It’s also, apparently the reason why I don’t maintain eye contact while I’m talking to someone. The article states that it’s hard to think while maintaining eye contact or, focusing your eyes. Apparently, our vision takes our full concentration and blocks out most other thought. It makes sense. It also tells us that our brains are one dimensional, not very adaptive, and we’re nothing more than walking, talking amoeba. Good to know.

The whole mindfulness/focusing your eyes thing is something that I’ve been aware of for a long time but I never equated it to eye contact. Now that I have, it makes perfect sense. So if you notice people not making eye contact when they’re talking to you, it’s because they find you fabulously beautiful and can’t seem to think while they’re looking at you.

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