Where we place our attention shapes our experience.
I’m not sure if this is a verbatim quote from another person or a way that a common concept has been rolled around in my own mind and eventually emerged with these exact words. From a positive psychology mindset it can mean that by focusing on the negative we are more likely to notice the negative, and vice versa. From a somatic, or nervous system lens it can mean that if we orient towards a threat we will feel unsafe (anxious), whereas if we orient to safety we can find calm in our bodies.
Recently this concept has taken on a new life for me. It is with regard to all that is happening in our larger world. My clients, my family, my friends, and my self can each become overwhelmed with the magnitude of all that seems to be spiraling out of control in the world. Pick an issue and you can talk yourself into tears over it, lose hope, become angry, fight fight fight. In the late spring, around the dinner table with friends, I took a poll. Out of curiosity, I wanted to know what my dear friends, people I admire and find to be wise (especially the quiet ones…which I am not), what they thought personally was the most impactful thing they could do to support the health of the environment. Several actions were named, but overall there was a sense that there is just never enough, that nothing we do will solve the problem.
Then, I saw my dog trainer. Yes, I work with a dog trainer and I can’t tell you how much joy it is bringing to my life, and to Maz. (She’s officially graduated and is now safely off leash on the trail, has far better manners with clients and friends, and maintains her special spark that may result in her forever being a therapy dog-in-training).
But I digress. In conversations about the true depths of all that we encounter in life (cause that what you talk about with your dog trainer, right?) he shared the perspective that he believes that we are all focusing on the wrong stuff. Rather than picking an issue to get angry about, to fight, and ultimately have little to no impact over… if we could all do our best to be human, to connect with each other, to be in relationship, everything else would follow.
And since that moment I’ve been coming across this concept everywhere.
What if we let the fuel of our actions be about connecting, loving, and being in relationship? What if in all things we choose love…
choose to be present with those who need our care, rather than raging against the ones we hate from afar
choose to immerse ourselves in nature and listen to her breath in the hum of the insects, rather than shame those who don’t recycle
choose to share our garden-cut flowers with the neighbor, rather than vent to our social media cohort about the atrocities in the world
choose to vote, march, and give money to the causes we believe in, rather than arguing with our loved ones over the next big election
share the way we feel, our hurt and sadness, with vulnerability, rather than bristle and tighten at the slightest hint of a differing opinion
It is ultimately all our choice. Perhaps in these choices there is a subtle shift in the community immediately around you, the one that you are helping to create… and maybe that shift is so imperceptible that it isn’t external at all, but rather is a shift in your own animal body, allowing you to live a life that is slower, and softer, and more full of beauty and love.