Whilepeople may have different amounts of money, we all have the same amount oftime. And most of us have more or less the same amount of conscious time, whenwe’re awake and paying attention to life.
What’sthe focus of your attention? Attention is like a spotlight. You see what youshine it on; the rest is hidden in darkness. It’s really up to you. Considerwhere you are spending your attention. There are an unlimited number of thingsthat you can “pay” attention to, both outside (in your environment) and inside(in your being). Where’s the spotlight of your attention shining right now? Ifyou’re not happy, or if you’re stuck in a rut, it may be time to change yourfocus.
It’sbeen estimated that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts a day and that95 percent of them are the same ones he or she had the day before. That meanswe’re all in a rut, paying attention to and thinking about the same things overand over again. If we have developed the habit of spending our attention on thethings we don’t like about life, rather than the things we do like, it’s easyto become jaded, cynical, and pessimistic.
Doyou know anyone like that? Are you like that? Bored with life?Complaining all the time? Appreciating nothing? Grouchy? Interested in nothingother than yourself, and sometimes not even that will do? Unable to hear or seeanything good? Routinely critical of others and of life itself? Overwhelmed anddepressed?
Allthese problems stem from an attention deficit disorder • not ADD in theclinical sense but ADD in the spiritual sense. We are literally payingattention to the wrong things and it’s sapping us of everything good, joyful,and true. Change your focus, shine the spotlight of your attention on more,less, or something else entirely, and you may just find the answer you’ve beenlooking for.
Takethe people with whom you share your home and work life. Do you focus on theways they annoy, hurt, or disappoint you? Do you spend your time thinking abouthow you would change them if you could? Change your focus to the things youappreciate, the qualities and behaviors you would miss if they were gone, andyou may experience dramatic changes in the quality of your relationships.
Thisshift represents shining the spotlight of your attention on more of the picturethan you’re used to seeing. It’s like zooming out or looking through awide-angle lens. Whatever you’re going through, there’s always more to thesituation than you’re paying attention to right now. Illumine more of thestage, see more of the characters, and you may find a blessing where you hadthought there was nothing but a burden.
Shiningthe spotlight of your attention on less of the picture than you’re used toseeing can sometimes work just as well, particularly when there’s too muchcoming at you. Zooming in on the one thing you can do or take comfort in canmake you feel amazingly good in the midst of crazy, mixed-up day.
Reallybad situations require a total shift in focus, shining the spotlight of yourattention on a different stage altogether. I once heard a minister describe hisordeal as a victim of terrorism and torture. The unspeakable things that weredone to him were enough to make any person jaded, cynical, and pessimistic. Butby repeating passages of scripture to himself, by shifting his focus to theinner world, he was able to think about something other than his pain andsuffering. This enabled him to not only survive the situation but to comethrough it with dignity and grace.
Changeyour focus to find the blessing. It’s there. Zoom out, zoom in, or turn aroundand look the other way. Shine the spotlight of your attention on the simplepleasures and positive aspects of life. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude,view life as a gift rather than as a burden, see the glass as full enough, andbefore you know it you’ll start attracting the good things that make life worth living.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC