Applying the Tetris Effect to Change Your Life

If you aren’t familiar with the game Tetris, it’s a computer game where four block shapes fall from the top of the screen in different combinations and you have fit one into the  next. A number of years ago, a boy in Australia had been playing Tetris for a considerable amount of time and he soon found that his dreams were made of Tetris shapes and in his waking life his mind was often trying to fit objects into one another.

He began to automatically see the entire world as a Tetris game. This was later called The Tetris Effect.

It seems that what we pay attention to and how we pay attention not only has an effect on how our brain grows, but also has an effect on how we view the world. So the question is, what do we spend our invaluable resource of attention paying attention to.

A Nielson poll says that the average American spends 4 hours a day watching television. How does that fall into the Tetris Effect? What is television seeping into our minds and how does that effect our expectations about how we should look, how our relationships should be, or what kind of success we should achieve?

What about Twitter and Facebook, do we begin to see our relationships as another status update?

But what if we were to think of this differently? What if the Tetris Effect could be a good thing, in other words, how can we get it to work for us? How can we intentionally pay attention in a particular way over time so that we become automatically kinder, more compassionate, able to regulate our bodies easier, turn the volume down on our fear, and feel more free?

I think it’s possible.

Chris Germer, who I recently wrote about, tells the story of how he used to have great fear of public speaking. Over time he began to practice Lovingkindness over and over again paying attention to wishing well for himself, wishing he be free from fear, and really intentionally connecting to his heart.

One day when he was up on stage speaking in public, the fear came over him and gripped him and in that moment, without him even needing to be conscious about it, the phrases of lovingkindness and compassion began to wash over him. How did that happen?

It’s the Tetris Effect.

What would you like more of in life, perhaps to be kinder to yourself, or less driven by your fears? It may be a good idea to see what you’re paying attention to on a regular basis and ask yourself, are these feeding this thing I’m wanting more or trying to get away from?

Just something to make you go hmmm.

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

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on

One Response to “Applying the Tetris Effect to Change Your Life”

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