We were at a family party recently where someone shared this riddle . . . A mother and father had five daughters; the first daughter was named January, the second was named February, the third was named March, the fourth was named April. What is the name of the fifth daughter.
Of course, everyone said that the fifth daughter’s name should be May, even though everyone knew it wasn’t because that would be way too simple and not a very good riddle at all! May was, of course, not the right answer, which got me thinking. Our brains are amazing computers, right? If we don’t know the information, our brains ‘fill in’ the information with data it can find stored based on things we’ve learned, been exposed to, seen, etc. The fifth daughter’s name really had nothing to do with the other daughter’s names, although our brain thinks the answer is obvious because it picked up on a pattern. Sometimes when the obvious answer isn’t the answer at all, it stops our ability to figure things out.
It requires a shift in perspective and a willingness to be open to other possibilities to accept the fact that daughter number five is not named May! Have you figured it out? There’s even a clue in the punctuation of the riddle itself. Did you notice there isn’t a question mark at the end of the last sentence of the riddle? Ready for the answer? Daughter number five is named What. What?! That seems silly because our brain doesn’t recognize the word ‘What’ as a person’s name, so it may stop us from being able to see that as a possibility, even when it was told to us!
Although it was just a silly riddle, it really made me wonder how often my brain does this. How often am I not seeing opportunities or answers that are right in front of me because I need to shift my perspective in order to see them? I’m working on becoming more aware of this so I can see what I may otherwise miss!! How about you?!