Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shifting Focus to the Positive

The words below are an important reminder about the power of intention, about being careful what we focus on, and about lightening up on ourselves. They're excerpted from Ann Dunnewold's wonderful blog "Who Says?!!" at anndunnewold.com. (See her Feb. 1 post "Groundhog Day Begone" to read in its entirety.)  Offered in the context of all those New Year's resolutions we made and are impatient to achieve, these thoughts hold true for each day and year of our lives. 

"[C]hange is easy, change is hard. Which is it? Whichever we adopt is powerful in steering our lives.


It’s both–and mostly depends on focus. If we look for big picture, total life revolution, we’re likely to be disappointed. Sometimes, massive steps are essential: if you’re arrested for DWI, it’s time to never again get behind the wheel after having a drink.

Shifting focus clarifies small revolutions. If you expected your January efforts to completely transform you, you’re probably disappointed. One mom described planting flower seeds in a pot with her son. An hour later, the boy was sitting on a stool by the pot, staring at the dirt. “Watching for my flowers to appear,” he explained. We laugh at his innocence. But are we applying the same unrealistic standards to ourselves? Scolding ourselves for not keeping our resolve 110%? Giving up because the pace is too slow, and we’ll never arrive?

In the words of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson’s character in Star Wars: Episode I), “your focus determines your reality.” Rick Hanson (only a psychologist–not a Jedi master) said this isfact. When we focus on what we don’t accomplish, and how we feel badly, the brain connections for those feelings are strengthened, reinforcing the endless loop. If we can take in how each cookie resisted, each yoga practice, each deep breath is part of action on the path to change, the brain reinforces positive instead, keeping us out of the Groundhog Day rut."

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