Where’s Your Focus?
I have a question: Do you focus on removing negatives from your life, or do you focus on enhancing the positives in your life?
It’s an interesting question to ask, isn’t it? Maybe you’ve never actually stopped to make that distinction before; how did it make you feel?
I have found this to be one of the more critical questions I’ve asked myself, because it reveals your attitude. Think about it, if you focus on everything that’s wrong with your life, even if you are trying to remove them, you probably have a very pessimistic attitude and probably look down on yourself. If however, you’re focusing on how to enhance the joys in your life, you probably have a more optimistic attitude.
I feel like I need to stop right there and make clarification: I think since I just mentioned “attitude” you might have instantly been hit with images of Tony Robbins and people walking on coals while chanting “Yes! Yes!” and that is not where I’m going here, so don’t worry.
What I want to talk about is what are you really focusing on and the power of that focus.
The 1 Minute Test
Can you do me a favor? If you have 1 minute to spare right now, I’d ask you stop whatever you’re doing and sit silently for 1 minute. In that 1 minute, you can think about anything except you absolutely can’t think about a WHITE BEAR. Just don’t think about white bears for the next 60 seconds.
If you actually did try this out, you almost certainly failed to not only do what I asked, but most likely you spent that 60 seconds wrestling with images of white bears.
Focus is NOT a Magnet
What that test indicates is that our mental focus can’t differentiate between positive and negative thoughts. We think our mental focus is like a magnet, and we think that good thoughts are the north magnetic poles and the negative thoughts are south magnetic poles. We then think that if we put our focus close to a negative thought, it will push it away from us while attracting positive thoughts. But this isn’t true: our mental focus isn’t a magnet that makes these distinctions between good and bad, but rather it is more like a vacuum. Think of your mental focus more like a vacuum cleaner: wherever you direct it, it will absorb indiscriminately.
I think we all know that if you saturate yourself with sad music, sad movies and sad thoughts that you can become sad yourself. But what I want to help you see is that even if you are trying to do something positive through the method of removing what it is that you deem a negative in your life, it will backfire and you’ll just be adding fuel to this fire.
What Is More Valuable Than Your Problem?
So then what do we do? How do you pull yourself out the downward spiral of emotions? How do you kick that lingering bad habit or addiction? The solution I have found is this: Find something that is so much more compelling to strive TOWARDS that as a result you will have to stop doing whatever you were initially trying to eliminate in order to keep moving closer to your goal.
Think about it, if you want to stop smoking, trying to stop smoking is going to be torture because smoking is always on your mind. But if you decided to train for a marathon, there is no way you can accomplish that goal without giving up smoking.
Stop trying to wrestle with your problems and trying to find a way to pin it down, instead, leave the problem—and the anxiety that follows it— behind and strive towards what will build you up! You have so much life and potential ahead! Get up and bring those dreams from abstract to reality!
“Vital Friends” – Tom Rath
“Lean In” – Sheryl Sandberg
Life verse: “But a generous man devises generous things and by his generosity he will stand.” -Isaiah 32:8
Life Mission Statement: To be intentionally focused on providing opportunity and adding value to others.