Focusing on What We Have

Focus is a very powerful tool, because what we focus on matters.

Posted Oct 03, 2020

 Jeffery Erhunse/Unsplash
Source: Jeffery Erhunse/Unsplash

As human beings, we have a great capacity to be able to focus.

Think about being at a party with people talking all around. You are able to block out the noise and focus on the conversation you’re having with the person in front of you.

Or imagine a race car driver, moving at speeds in excess of 150 or 200 miles per hour. That driver has to stay focused because an accident can happen in a heartbeat—and the driver must sustain that focus, on the road surface, other drivers, vehicle condition, throughout the entirety of the race.

But focus can also be healthy for the body. Imagine at a cancer treatment center there is someone who is going through a very challenging time with life-or-death health concerns, but then picture that person going for a walk on a beautiful path and focusing on nature, a smile in their heart.

We don’t always have total control over the situations we face in life, but we can control where we place our focus and our attention. I know that sometimes I wake up much earlier than I’d planned to. In these pre-dawn moments, I have a choice. On the one hand, I could lie there and focus on how I’m not getting enough sleep and how terrible I’ll feel as a result. On the other hand, I could lie in the dark and focus on my breathing.

I’ve been a regular meditator for decades, and I actually really enjoy watching my breath, so this is a much more pleasurable choice for me than worrying would be. Most of the time, I’ll fall right back asleep through this strategy, but even if I ended up lying there until it was time to wake, I would have a much happier experience than worry would have provided.

Where our happiness is concerned, the ability to focus on one thing instead of another is something that can be very helpful to us. As we go through our day, we have a choice of where we can place our attention. There are some thoughts that put happiness in our hearts, and others that make us feel nervous and worried, and there are still others that are neutral. Placing our attention on the higher vibration—the bright side—is much more conducive to a positive emotional state.

The word “focus” is really a metaphor. Focus is something our eyes do. They might zero in on what’s close, like words on a page, or they may shift to something far from us, like a movement outside the window.

Our ability to shift our actual focus is important to our safety and well-being. Sometimes something captures our attention and changes our focus, and this may save us from harm. If a boulder breaks free from a cliff and starts rolling toward where you sit in your living room watching television, thank goodness for your ability to transfer your focus from a meaningless sit-com to a life-or-death emergency. A shift in focus means that you can flee a source of danger.

Whatever we focus on is going to affect how we’re doing, and this goes for everything, big or small. If we are having a bout of insomnia, as I mentioned previously, there is no reason to lie in misery and predict the horrible day that will result. We can instead see those unexpected walking hours as bonus time and use it for our benefit. We know from experience that we can use it as a negative.

Focus is a very powerful tool, because what we focus on matters. Our attention dictates our thoughts and shapes the outcomes of the things that happen in our lives—and our focus determines how we feel. Obviously, since we are meeting in this specific space, we want to feel happy, and our focus will have a lot to do with how successful we are in that pursuit.

So many times, people who seem from the outside to have it all experience terrible outcomes—they drink themselves into oblivion or commit suicide. Observers are left in disbelief—but they had so much! How was this possible?

The answer has to do with their focus. There was something negative in the person’s life, and that’s where all of their energy went, and the result was a seemingly impossible level of unhappiness. That’s the power of focus.

The good news is that the opposite is also true. Things may not be going so well, but if we focus on what we have, and we enjoy it, our lives can go pretty well—or even really well.

Today is all we have. We should focus on this day and all of the good in it—all that we have and cherish. If we are able to develop this skill, we will always do well, regardless of conditions.

It’s all about acceptance. If we can stand back and recognize that we have done what we can to make our life better, we can resolve to make that be enough. We can say, “This is what I have. I’m going to make this work.”

People sometimes think that if things work out the way they want them to, then they’ll be happy. But the truth is that those people who focus on what they already have are happier.

We’re here on Earth to do well, and happiness is our birthright. If we can begin to focus on what we have and catch ourselves when we are looking in another direction, we are going to do a whole lot better.

In conclusion, I offer this simple technique we can try when we feel that our focus is pointed in a direction that is not conducive to our happiness: Focus on beauty.