“Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives: where we focus our attention.”
Recently, I've been thinking about, and writing about, lack of focus. That's because I have been so distracted by the 10,000 things the Taoists talk about. I attribute being out of focus to the political climate—for the last two years, we have been watching the world tilt on its axis, and staying on top of what's happening has become an obsession. We understand that vigilance is necessary, but it creates within us two minds. One mind that's trying to focus on whatever we're doing, and the other, on what is going on in the world.
We're reading and hearing a great deal about distraction itself—with regard to our technology in particular. People falling into holes while staring at their phones, accidents on the roadways because of texting while driving. There is conflict about technology in schools—necessary for children to be proficient, while also adding to the burden of attention deficit disorder. Who wants to pay attention to boring old history when Pokemon Go is popping up everywhere.
And then there's the problem of mental backward-looking or forward-looking, while missing the present moment. Focusing on what has happened in the past, or what might happen in the future is an enormous energy sump. So many of us imagine that we are damaged goods from childhood, and that is why our life is so difficult now. I find that to be true only when we make it so. Do we imagine that our childhood was truly worse than the vast majority of people? Are we so busy looking backward or anticipating a terrible future, that we can't function in the present? Mark Twain said, “You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Right now, today, is where we are, and where our focus needs to be if we are to function optimally. If that sounds like I'm preaching, it's because it's what I need to hear.
Accidents happen when we are out of focus. We are not solidly present in our bodies, or in contact with the earth when we're carried away by our thoughts. All our energy is swirling around our cranium, and our feet and hands, and even our eyes and ears are not in concert; they're disconnected. Our breath is up high in our chests, and not down in our bellies, which means less oxygen is available to body and brain. We trip, we bang into things, we put our feet down without being aware of what's under them, we drive without being conscious of traffic around us.
Tony Robbins said: “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” If we want our lives to be better, we must adjust our focus, and limit our distractions. Let's place our attention squarely in this moment, and bring the full power of our presence to bear on the here and now. If we all did that, who knows what we might accomplish!
In the Spirit,