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Looking under the lamppost, the streetlight effect, or the drunkard's search: a person asks someone scrabbling on the floor under a lamppost at night if they've lost their keys. The person replies they lost them elsewhere, but the light's much better here.

Looking under the lamppost

It's an old economists' joke. A person out walking at night comes across a man scrabbling on the floor under a lamppost. The man on the floor says he lost his keys. When asked when he dropped them, he replies, "Oh, I dropped them over there, but the light's better here."

The joke is also known as the streetlight effect or the drunkard's search. It's an apt metaphor for how, if we're really honest with ourselves, sometimes we find ourselves working, or searching, or staying in the places where we find it easier rather than the places where we know we ought to be.

Also see: the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

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