I’m reflecting this week on the idea that what I focus on changes what shows up in my life.
I had a great reminder of this a few days ago.
We’re approaching springtime in Colorado. Some days, when the weather is warm, the evenings are a beautiful time for a family walk. We take the dogs and kids through our neighborhood, past the lake, and around by the creek, where we have an expansive view of the evening sky and the towering peaks on the horizon. It’s beautiful, particularly as the sun drops below the mountains and the gentle cool of the evening settles in.
Last week we had a day with the perfect sort of weather. We finished dinner, asked the kids to climb into the stroller, and headed out on a walk.
Because it felt spontaneous, we didn’t bring the full set of young-child-contingency gear we would normally carry. This, predictably, led to disaster.
About a third of the way through the walk, our 1-year-old daughter ran out of cheerios. And she got VERY upset.
We had, of course, just finished dinner. That didn’t matter. We offered almonds as an alternative snack. We tried to tell her that she could have Cheerios when we got home. Nothing consoled her.
And so, as we strolled as a family through this beautiful evening, our daughter‘s sobbing screams echoed across the lake: “CHHHEEERRRRIOSSSS!!!”
Finally, we tried to distract her. Every time we can to a waterfall, we would stop, turn the stroller, and point it out to her. “Claire, look! It’s a waterfall!”—and, for a moment, she would get her attention off her pressing need for Cheerios and focus on the beauty of the moment.
It was only for a moment, of course. But – for the half dozen small waterfalls we passed on the way home, each time it brought her attention away from her problem and, for an instant, stopped the tears and let her enjoy the beauty of the evening.
It sounds funny to hear this story of my one-year old daughter; but the reality is I do this too. I often focus on what I want less of in my life, rather than what I want more of. And I forget that the way I am focusing on my problem is a cause of my problems.
A book I was reading recently framed this as the difference between a “Creator” dynamic and a “Victim” dynamic. The author pointed out:
“…whatever I hold in my mind tends to manifest itself in my life. What we believe and assume creates most of our experience…”
For me, one way this shows up is thinking about money. I often find myself feeling negative our our finances, wishing for more. And, if I’m honest, this is just as silly for me as the story I told about my one-year-old. My life is filled with abundance, and I should be constantly overflowing with gratitude.
And, the reality of what I want to create in my life has little to do with that perceived lack. I want to develop into someone whose insights create value for those around me, with my own business that I love, with more freedom, more autonomy, more creativity. Those results will never flow from dwelling on a perceived shortfall: they will only come when I focus on the vision for what I want to create and take steps towards it.
So that’s what I’m reflecting on today. How can I better notice and be responsible for my mindset. Here’s my ideas, borrowed in part from my reflections on planning.
- More gratitude. Gratitude makes me happier, more positive, more effective. For me, this amounts to taking time to be grateful and expressing gratitude through a note or a kind word.
- More signposts in my day. The things I see in my day influence me. By placing reminders in my day or week, I can remember the mindset I want to have and the type of person I want to be.
- Smaller steps, more often. Or, said another way less thought, more action. This sounds simple, but taking steps in a positive direction is a great way for me to take my mind off of negativity. These steps should be 1) as small as possible, and 2) completely within my control.
I hope these ideas can help you in your day as well. Take care!