We are constantly making a choice with regard to the reaction we want to have when faced with a situation.
I often ask myself the question, what is the greatest challenge you’ve accomplished, or would like to accomplish? My answer is to ask myself this question: “What kind of person do I want to be?” I ask myself this everyday and react accordingly so as to be living the life I choose.
This task might seem like a big one, but have there already been times where you’ve asked yourself that question and asked yourself what is most important to you? Of course!
Putting it in perspective
The success of the film industry depends on people feeling empathy for the characters involved, whether they are at war, in love, or mourning. A truly engaging film pulls you into the drama of the situation and has you forget your worries. When you suddenly return to reality, for a brief moment, you might feel incredibly appreciative to not find yourself in a similar situation or be inspired by the courageous hero. In that moment you are feeling grateful. You will be concentrating on everything that is going well and what you wish to accomplish.
Another circumstance during which our focus is shaken up is when someone in our entourage faces a dramatic event. For example, if your friend found out her husband was cheating on her or was diagnosed with cancer. Once again, as you take in the news, you will feel empathy, and might be truly saddened by the news, but in the end, just like a survival instinct, you will think of your own mortality and/or the incredibleness that you aren’t experiencing any difficulties, and will appreciate the good things in life even more. You will feel appreciative and full of gratitude.
How is it that you aren’t walking around every day with an enormous smile on your face? Why isn’t every day that you are not the subject of war, death, sickness, heartache, or a natural disaster an incredible one? How can that be? Don’t your worries seem infinitely less important in comparison? Is it important to keep focused only when facing challenges or on a daily basis?
How does a parking ticket compare to having your village sacked or burned? How does your four year old kid who used your Dior lipstick to draw all over her face compare to a heart attack? It doesn’t compare. And yet, we let these little things impede our focus and keep us from being happy and fulfilled, and in a state of what Maslow calls self-development. Why is it that we are only able to put things in perspective when we observe hardships that are greater than our own? Why do we let such small things have such an impact on us?
Mental focus is the ability to see what’s going well, even if there are things going badly, while the absence of this is to see everything that’s going wrong, even when there are things going well.
One morning, while driving on the highway to bring my son to school, frustrated and afraid we would be late yet again, I was listening to the radio and heard the story of a shooting in a shopping mall in Kenya, where children and a world-renowned scientist were shot. For weeks after, whenever my assistant manager and I were faced with a stressful situation we told ourselves we were better off than those kids in Kenya. As known conference host and author Tony Robbins said, we found a “pattern interrupter,” a way of breaking the vicious cycle of focus that we can get caught in when faced with a stressful situation, or are focused on the problem that thus becomes most important to us.
Taking action against daily obstacles
How can you do the same? Think of someone you are close with, whom you trust, and who has shared your successes and failures, and share this article with them. Let them know you are working on your mental focus on a daily basis and your ability to be grateful rather than resistant. Now, think of something this person might say or do that would immediately change your focus.
This will help you put this in perspective or instantly come up with of a common reference, for example a pleasant memory. If this act is able to surprise and resonate with you, it will have a greater impact.
Finally, if it’s an act of good faith, have confidence and accept that this person will challenge you to change your focus, if ever you should lose it. After all, don’t you deserve to be happy?