Have You Ever Seen Money Grow on Trees?

Or rather, have you seen money ready to be plucked off of trees? If you have, please do share the experience! If you haven’t, please watch the video below, or at least its first minute. It’s a total of 5 minutes including all the credits, no audio needed, sfw.

Yes, it turns out money, actual bills, can be found on trees. Who knew? And if you were able to watch the video all the way to the conclusions of Amy Krouse Rosenthal who posted it, you would have seen that she herself was surprised at the two most common responses:

  1. “That people would walk by a tree filled with free money without even noticing”, and
  2. “That people would look at The Money Tree … but they somehow weren’t able to see it.”

Is this our normal? Not to pay attention? Not to notice what’s directly in front of us? Not even free money? Even when we “look” at the free money tree, we don’t “see” it?

So why did this clip come to mind?

We recently were chatting about How Many Fully Formed Adults You Know, and specifically, what characteristics define a fully formed adult. One of those characteristics was empathy.

Vicki and Deb wisely pointed out (thank you both!) that one can’t be empathetic without actively listening. Not just listening, but actively listening. And it’s true. It’s not enough to walk by a tree and not bump into it. It’s not enough to look at the tree and not be able to see it. We need to actively observe. How can we be creative when we’re not observing? Yes, active observation ties into this month’s theme…

But if we don’t even notice free money, how many of us regularly truly, actively observe others? Pay attention to what others are saying, doing, or feeling? Even those we interact with regularly?

Do you feel you actively observe? Do you think others around you do? What symptoms have you seen of a deficit in active observations?

53 thoughts on “Have You Ever Seen Money Grow on Trees?

      1. seankfletcher

        strategicteams.wordpress.com·1d ago

        and a recommendation for the movie, which I immediately downloaded and watched, but I didn’t pay attention to that coffee cup,and I had to watch that movie at fast speed once more and I found it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Portable Door is the title of the Stan movie released within the last few days. Anyway, the hero of our story, Paul – early on in the movie, spots and uses a coffee mug that has the words on it: “Destined to be Average…”
        -just like someone doesn’t notice that money on the tree, in that movie we were looking for that coffee cup
        and I found it Twice and show the picture in my last post.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow EW 🤔😳 I noticed this too… it was my most surprised observation. And funny, I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about mindfulness: how we don’t stop to notice the small wonders all around us. I am a true people watcher: I LIKE to observe. But honestly, I bet I would have walked right by that tree as well, head in the clouds.

    I WAS pleased to see that most folks who DID stop didn’t take all the money in a frenzy: most took one, read the message, smiled and wandered off, still looking at it as the gift it was. And I liked that a few even stayed around and pointed out the money tree to passers by who hadn’t looked up 🙂

    This was a great lesson and a reminder to actively listen and be present. Thank you so much for this!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Patti! I, too, sometimes wonder how many roses I missed smelling. But maybe it’s a fair trade for a chance for a to visit to the clouds? As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of a quote I once read “We have only the present moment, sparkling like a star in our hands — and melting like a snowflake.” (Marie Beynon) So, yes, I couldn’t agree more about being present, well said!

      And, yes, too, to the folks who shared the bounty! Thank you so much for pointing these multiple things out!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What an splendid observation, and it does seem to hold true at times for many great minds! Maybe the absent minded professor behaves that way because he’s so focused on one thought that at the same time he might miss on the … money on the tree?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re pretty unique! It turns out that most people don’t see the gorilla when they’re focused on the number of times the balls are being passed. And it’s not like it’s hidden. I thought you’d get a kick out of it 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Indeed! In the many (many!) years I’ve shown this to many (many!) people, maybe a handful spotted the gorilla. I agree with you, and yet … they didn’t see “the main event.” I read that when the people who created this experiment gave a talk and had the gorilla show up on stage no one missed it. I wonder if that means people weren’t paying as much attention to the talk? 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hahaha! Does that mean I have a weird brain, odd visual acuity, multi-focal abilities, or something else entirely- or maybe it means that I don’t take videos seriously and actually just pay attention to what’s obviously in front of me, like a huge hairy black gorilla?! Just given the fact that I was counting white shirted people I see no sense at all that when a moving BLACK figure comes into a white field it’s not noticed.

        I’d love to do this experiment with people of all ages and simply observe them observing the video to see if I could catch subtle differences in their focus, attention and responses.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think that’s a fantastic line of inquiry, if this “observation-ability/focus” changes with age.

        It is fascinating to note who spots the gorilla and who doesn’t. I once wanted to use this video in a presentation with VP-level folks, but ended up not using it. Even though it would have nailed the point in a couple of minutes (and get me the budget for the project I was after… :D), if even one of them spotted it, I’d be guaranteed to never see a dime 🙂 I wasn’t sure who’d notice and who … wouldn’t…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A great lesson to help me see just how much I might miss because I spend so much time wandering around inside my own head. It’s incentive to put “Active mindfulness” on my daily to do list. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a fantastic extension of the thought: thank you for that and for your kind words. What you said reminds me of a lesson from Paulo Coelho: “Life is short. Kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly, and forgive quickly.” Words to live by?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! And while we should focus on what counts, I can’t help but remember that old saying that goes something like “life isn’t defined by counting the moments in it, but by the number of moments in life that count”…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, EW — you don’t play fair, do you? I immediately had tears in my eyes as I watched the video…I love the project and the response from those who delighted in the discovery…smiled broadly and wanting to share with others — new friends passing by – by pointing to the magical tree. The fact that each dollar bill had a beautiful affirmation…and the joy on faces when they slowed down to SEE, read and wonder? So much goodness. I’ve still got tears flowing. Simple human kindness…and look at all the missed opportunities…if only our eyes were more open, in the moment, seeing the love and wonder. I can’t wait to share the video with a few people that I love. It’s magic – just as you are for sharing. xo! 🥰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Vicki, your words have a way of grabbing my heart and squeezing it tight 🥰😍🥰

      You’re right! That tree is not just a money tree, it can be a magic tree if we just open ourselves up to it. Magic that creates a community, new friends, new bonds. What strong magic that is. It is simple and yet so precious and so complex.

      Thank YOU for opening my eyes to the magic. And for your wonderful words that opened my heart 💜 You honor me, and I’m proud to have you as my friend 💜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Again…not FAIR! I’m the one who should be thanking you, silly one! You know how it is with certain things that just hit you…and the emotion is all there? You do that and it’s a gift. Sending magical hugs to you, dear EW! 🥰


  4. I actively observe, sometimes to the point of driving myself crazy by noticing all the details. I find very few people who pay as close attention to life as I do. The symptoms of a deficit in active observations? Confusion, defensiveness, waste, those tell me that someone isn’t actively observing what is right in front of them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Have you ever heard of a show called Monk? It’s about a detective (with many issues) who observes … everything (except human emotions 🙃). There was an episode where he was paid to find continuity issues on a movie set. Guess what? I found continuity issues in that episode 🤣

      These are great observations of the deficit when it happens, thank you for sharing, I’m going to be thinking those through!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, we’ve watched Monk all the way through. I remember the episode when he was hired as the continuity person, but not that there were errors in the episode. You rock, EW!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Just as with listening I think you may know by now that active observation is a focus for me- noted mostly in my issues with cell phone use and heads buried in those phones 😉 I agree with LA’s take on hyper focus- but only for a limited few. We all have the ability to get tunnel vision at times, but that’s not what this is, the video shows that (and it’s great btw).

    Do we excuse the not seeing of tangible things though, in light of busy lifestyle, too many commitments, stress… whatever? Has that become so much the norm that we allow the same level of unawareness to carry over into not seeing the people in our lives? If we do notice, I wonder if we avoid out of discomfort, fear, ignorance, and yes even lack of empathy…? Have we LEARNED to be unaware or are we CHOOSING to be unaware?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re spot on with the analogy to the heads-buried-in-the-phones. Remember those images of 4 people sitting at the dinner table, each with his/her head buried in a phone. How is it that we decide that what’s “there” is more important/interesting than what’s “here”? Then the tree decked with dollars?

      I think that that’s a FANTASTIC question: have we learned to be unaware, or are we choosing to be unaware? Remember the guy in The Matrix that preferred to be in the simulated state rather than face “reality”? Is it simply easier to do that, avoiding the discomfort and fear, avoiding having to own up to our own ignorance, and, yes, even lack of empathy? (I love how you said that!)

      I’m hoping you will answer, I think this is a truly eye-opening discussion point you brought up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I’m clearly going to say it’s both learned behavior and for some (many) it’s a choice. I, in fact, am guilty of perpetuating the learned aspect with one of my grands. She struggles with focus and we are running our last science unit in a way that gives the girls a taste of public school experience. Her last time in the system was 2nd grade- 3 years ago, and homeschool hasn’t helped her in that area. Anyway- I find myself consistently reminding her to focus- only on what is in front of her, telling her to ignore what I’m doing with her sister, etc. Does it work- usually not, but she is hearing it over and over and I am a believer in the impact of words being planted and becoming reality in our brains. I want her to be focused when she needs to be, but I want her to experience the world around her all the rest of the time. Can she focus? Yes she can, especially when she sits in front of her laptop creating digital art. She hears nothing when I speak and has tuned out the world. So while that learned behavior is partly my doing, when she is in her happy place with art is that a choice? I think it is. I will asking her if her ears stopped working and even point out that she hears everything going on around her at other times- why not at the times she’s engaged in what makes her creative side happy?

        Can we apply this to adults? Maybe, but I also go back to the fact that adults are much more aware of those other aspects I mentioned- fear/discomfort, etc. At that point while they may have been conditioned over time to set their sights on their preferred goal -getting down the sidewalk to their destination- in the video scenario, they have the power to also turn on and off engagement as they see fit and if the engagement is uncomfortable, or perceived to be negative- why engage at all. As to the money- perhaps they see that as trickery or sinister in some way- a too good to be true scenario?

        The folks who never glanced up had one goal in mind while perhaps the folks who “saw” momentarily chose not to process and explore the possibilities of their reality at that moment. Was it too much? Too odd? Too uncomfortable? An overload in their perfectly created world… makes me wonder how or if they function well daily.

        And on another train of thought sparked after writing that last bit- what if it is neither learned or choice- what if we as observers are seeing simple signs of someone who cannot look up, look around, embrace the idea of money hanging in a tree? I am speaking of outward manifestations of neuro divergent folks.. and their process of seeing and managing the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know, I once read this thing a lady (she was a countess, if I remember correctly, so literally a lady 😁) who was a neuroscientist talked about: the impact of social media on an entire generation. She brought up points like (I’m saying this from memory, so please excuse literary license taken…) : say you grew up with every time you took a bite from an apple, you posted it on instagram and received much feedback on it. And then one day you’ll take a bite from an apple and there’ll be no feedback. How will you handle it? What happens when (most, clearly not your lucky grandkids!) you grow up doing homework while simultaneously chatting online with friends, playing a game, and listening to music. You can solve “simple” problems like that. Maybe. But one day you’ll come across a difficult problem that requires hours of concentration. Will you know how to tackle it?

        Clearly the “you” in that write-up was not you or me. But there’s a large portion of the population to which this behavior applies. Will they be ready for the “real” challenges?

        As I was reading through the great points you brought up, that lady’s questions came to mind. What do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well first the IG apple folks will be crushed beyond belief that no one liked or commented and probably determine their entire social life is over. Can you tell by now that I frown fully on social media, and no I do not include blogging as social media even though I know some do 😉

        I was one of those people, no matter what age I happen to be, who absolutely could not have the TV on in the background, music playing, or anything else visual or auditory when trying to study and work. Even needing to research in a library was distracting to me because clearly it’s been determined that I see and hear everything!

        So the countess’ example is to me another aspect of learned or conditioned behavior, but the key has to be in the simplicity of those other points of focus in their environment. The level of any distraction is not too great and maybe a lot of what their typical homework entails is simply rote behavior so they can combine one of those other things.

        What happens when they are assigned their first 25 page research paper and experimental theory outline on quantum physics? Likely they blow up the world while 5 feet away their friends chat online, Beyonce plays in their ears and their roommate is building and exploring in Minecraft 😉 In short, they don’t have a clue what “real” is.


      4. I think you’re right: anecdotally, at least, there are many popular articles about the shortening of the attention span. I’m going to have to read more about that: thank you for pointing me in that direction! And should you have any pointers about what to read, please don’t be shy about sharing!


  6. I will add a couple of other possible interpretations of what happened in addition to those offered. First, Vicki said, “The fact that each dollar bill had a beautiful affirmation…and the joy on faces when they slowed down to SEE, read and wonder? So much goodness.” If any people who saw the money reacted as Vicki did, they might have seen the tree and the dollars as a kind of art or a type of Public Service Announcement they didn’t want to spoil.

    Another element could have been the finding I’ve referred to on “The Heart of the Matter” before. Research using fMRI technology demonstrates that people who “see” a homeless person on the street have the same reaction to that person as they do to a piece of furniture. Substitute dollar bills for furniture in this example.

    Finally, a part of the response among those who saw the tree could have been a relatively low estimate of the value of a dollar. The people who passed by looked reasonably well dressed, and the neighborhood background doesn’t suggest financial distress. Would the same response have occurred in an economically distressed area? I don’t know.

    There are probably other possible explanations and more than a few experiments that could be run, changing one variable or another, such as hanging ten dollar bills, using only paper money without the attached messages, performing the experiment in different neighborhoods with various levels of financial insecurity, etc.

    Interesting post and conversation, Endless Weekend. Thanks!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes what an interesting post and I love Dr. Stein’s added elements. What I noticed when I watched the video is that it seemed to me that people in pairs were more likely to take the money. I wonder if somehow people needed someone else’s affirmation that it was okay? (akin to Dr. Stein’s first point above)

      But I love your overall point that we need to slow down and actively observe. Do fewer things and do them more slowly and better? Yep, I need to hear that!

      Great post, EW!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, Wynne! That’s a spectacular observation! It is fascinating how behavior when not by oneself does change. Is it the affirmation? Do we become “braver” in packs? That is an absolutely riveting line of inquiry!


    2. Thank you, Gerald! These are such intriguing interpretations!

      I certainly hope that people truly SAW the tree and wanted to preserve it as such. Remember that clip where the observer is supposed to count how many times 2 balls are being tossed/passed amongst two groups of girls wearing white and black t-shirts?
      Do you think it could be partially that? Though I do like the idea that they saw such goodness in this “giving tree” that they wanted to preserve it!

      The research that shows what people’s reactions are to “seeing” a homeless person on the street sounds fascinating: I’m going to have to look that up.

      What we “see” vs. what we “SEE” is an intriguing area. It’s definitely wrapped up in our prior experiences, in our current goals, even in our beliefs. And you’ve just given me an idea for a future entry based on an experiment conducted in the subway… Stay tuned, and my thanks for such a thoughtful comment!


  7. What a fascinating video! Thank you for sharing, EW! I particularly loved the folks that pointed out the “money tree” to other passersby. Personally, I have the innate tendency to actively observe and notice things that others miss. I think active observation leads to more opportunity for joy–can’t can’t appreciate the first spring bloom, a child’s first steps, or another’s act of kindness if you’re not paying enough attention to notice them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So well said! Observations are the first step in the journey. And I really like how you pointed out the pointing out of the “money tree”! In fact, this inspired me to write, well, tomorrow’s post! 🙂 THANK YOU!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this fun and sweet video that unfortunately highlights how little people observe the present moments of their life. Life around them, that is. They are in their heads most of the time, rushing about, worrying and because of that, they are not fully PRESENT. I believe authorities link anxiety to our attempts to keep our minds in two dimensions at once, the past or the future, while living in the present, very transitory, moment.


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