“Our thoughts create our reality – where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go.”
- Peter McWilliams
“Loving people live in loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
- Wayne Dyer
What are you focusing on today?
Are you dwelling endlessly on the negative or irrelevant details in work or people or are you appreciating the positive aspects and what you have in life?
Are you focusing on your most important tasks or goals or are you filling up your time by doing the usual busywork or stuff that might be easier mentally and emotionally to get done?
Are you focused at all? Or are you interrupting your focus by checking your Facebook or inbox a dozen times today or splitting it as you try to get three things done at once?
Are you using your focus in the best way you know?
It is tempting to think of life and the improvement of it as something your do over a long time by for example achieving big goals sometime in the future. But creating a happier life for yourself is about today too.
What you keep your focus on most of the time tends to expand in your life. Stuff like misery. Or stress. Or gratefulness. Or openness. And what you keep your focus on most of the time tends to become your mental habits. And your habits have a huge influence on the actions you take – or don’t take – and how your life develops.
How to better make use of your focus.
Now, it’s easy to say that you should make better use of your focus and keep it steady and on the useful things in your daily life. But how do you do it (besides by having goals you really, really, really want to achieve)? A few of my favourite tips:
Maybe not the most surprising or exciting answer in the world. But since I started to exercise more – by for example using body weight circuits for cardio training – of the last few months I have noticed two aspects. Things feel lighter. And I have more energy to use. By lighter I don’t mean that I am more powerful when I try to lift weights. I mean that life tends to feel lighter to handle. The things and tasks that felt heavy to handle before become lighter and easier to manage.
I find that I naturally feel more energetic and positive without having to do anything mentally. It’s kinda automatic. And I just have more energy to use through out the day. I don’t get bogged down in negative or irrelevant stuff later on in the day- when fatigue used to set in – as easily anymore.
This won’t make a difference today but if you just start getting in better shape by exercising you will probably notice these effects within a few weeks.
Ask yourself helpful questions.
Be alert. Ask yourself questions throughout the day. Questions like the ones that begun this article. Or a questions like:
What’s awesome about this situation?
Is this useful?
Will this matter 5 years from now?
Whenever you feel like you are heading down a path of irrelevant thoughts, distractions or a negative thought loop slow down. Be still. Reconnect with the present by taking a few dozen belly breaths and just focusing on your breath. Or use your senses to focus on what’s in front of you and around you. And stay there for a minute or two. That might be all you need.
If you need something more, try asking yourself a question like the ones above to snap yourself into a better headspace.
The more your use things like these, the more your gain control over what you are focusing on. It might not work splendidly the first time. You have to get used to it and your mind has to get used to it too. As inner resistance fades, as you become more skilled and as you gain more understanding of what you respond to the best it will be easier to keep your focus where you want it to be.
Use a journal. Write down what you have been thinking. Where your mental dialogue has gone today. How much mental dialogue you have had and much time you have been in it. And how much time you have just been present and not focused on the past or future.
You might not remember everything you thought about. But this can give an idea of your overall tendencies, just like a food journal can keep things real and inform you about what you are actually eating in a day (rather than what you think you are eating).
Use a cone of silence.
As best you can, create a cone of silence around you as you work. That means unplugging stuff like your internet cable – this will make you focus and stop all that forum/email/Facebook stuff – and phone. Shut your door to decrease noise and interruptions. You can also unclutter your desk for example to create a cone that is even nicer and filled with less mental distractions. Yeah, you might not be able to do all those things where you work. But do the best you can.
Be careful. What you focus on – both in the long term and in your daily life – makes a world of difference.
Keeping your focus steady and on the right things can help you improve your effectiveness and lower your stress levels. But it’s also important on a large scale for all your todays and your overall life. And not just to help you make more money or getting in even better shape. For example, the Wayne Dyer quote at the start of this article is pretty accurate. Your focus is one of the most precious things you have.