Have you ever noticed that when you focus on something you start seeing it everywhere? For example at the end of a recent workshop, I encouraged the participants to look for the word “joy” and when they saw it to post a picture in the event group. In just a few short days there were pictures of joy in all shapes and sizes. Given the time of year, “joy” is pretty easy to find if you are looking for it.
Focusing on specific things always brings them to the forefront of what we pay attention to. If you are looking for a new car, you will see the car you are interested in all over. If you are thinking about planning a vacation to a special destination, you may start to see articles and references to that place more often than usual. Have a new baby? Babies are everywhere. Your kids are interested in something new? All of a sudden that new character, toy, video game or sport appears whenever you turn around. I suppose it makes sense – we are exposed to thousands of messages and images on a daily basis. Most of these messages remain in the background because we simply cannot process them all. However when we are focused on something, that specific item or idea breaks through the noise and grabs our attention.
Of course it works the opposite way as well. Does your child/spouse/co-worker/friend do something that drives you crazy? Chances are you are going to notice every single time they start doing it. Are you worried about health/finances/job? Every sniffle/dollar/project will be placed under a microscope, reviewed, analyzed, criticized and second guessed. It’s easy to focus on the negative. Somewhere we started to think that if we worried about it, it would somehow get better. It’s unrealistic to think we can ignore negative things but what we can do is decide how much of our attention we give to each situation/feeling/person currently in our lives.
Author Mike Dooley says “Thoughts become things.” What are your thoughts? Where is your focus? Pick something and see how often it crosses your path this week.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.