Choose Your Focus
I recently had the opportunity to visit an exhibit of the painter, Frida Kahlo, and was reminded of Frida’s incredible talent and all that she accomplished in her short 47 years on earth. I am a fan of Frida’s work but hadn’t seen any of it lately and had forgotten about all the pain, both physical and emotional, that she endured in her lifetime. If you don’t know the story, I recommend checking out one of the many biographies about her, or I also enjoyed the movie, Frida for insight into her art, her relationship with Diego Rivera and also her struggles and victories.
While the details are too complex to get into here, one of the causes of Frida’s physical pain was a terrible accident she was involved with when she was just 18. It was so serious, in fact, that Frida, who was riding on a bus at the time, was impaled by a metal rod. The impact of the crash blew the clothes right off of her body. The accident left Frida bedridden for an extended period of time and for the rest of her life she suffered from pain and ailments that were a result of the crash.
The reason that I’m bringing all of this up is that one of the fascinating parts of the exhibit was a display of some of Frida’s journal entries. I learned that Frida was an avid journal writer and that she wrote the journal entries in two different colors of ink. With one color she wrote about her pain and suffering and demons. In the other (and usually on top of the first layer of words) she wrote about life’s beauty, and the magic of the universe. I thought that this was so interesting because while not all of us have had the dramatic events to contend with like the ones that shaped Frida’s life, we all have struggles and we all have miracles in our lives. This yin and yang is part of the human experience, but we get a choice around what we focus our attention and energy on.
And this choice is everything. Are you only noticing the pain and bad parts of your life or are you taking the time to be in the moment and feel grounded, centered and appreciative? When you start being intentional about what you notice and what you focus on, your entire experience begins to shift. Because everyone has within themselves the dichotomy of good and bad, consider this question: What if you chose to focus on the positive instead of the negative? Take, for example, a couple who has been together for many years. They are well past the “honeymoon” stage and are finding that they’re irritated by the other person’s habits and idiosyncrasies. It’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming the nagging partner, or worse, the silent resentful one. But what if you decided to notice the other side of the coin (remember, everyone has both bad and good).
What if, instead of pointing out all that your partner does wrong, you decided to call them out on the things that they do right? As humans we generally like praise and encouragement, so when we begin getting that positive reinforcement we will usually find that we want to do more of the thing we are getting praised for… very quickly in this scenario the experience of both people in the relationship begins to shift.
This same principle applies to the workplace and even to life in general. When we focus on the good we attract more the good into our lives. It’s an energy thing, and it’s in the way people respond to us – and ultimately, when we start doing this, we get to experience a whole different reality. So, when you reflect on life in your journal, meditation practice, or simply in your day-to-day, remember to notice where your focus is. It’s okay to recognize and acknowledge the challenges, but put the good stuff in there too, and then decide what you’re going to spend most of your time looking at, because at the end of the day that is what you’ll end up creating more of in your life.
You are 100% responsible for where you choose to put your attention – so what’s it going to be and how is that choice going to affect your overall experience and reality?