Monday, December 7, 2009

Where Does Your Focus Lie?

Many years ago, while riding in the car with my mother, I noticed she always swerved to avoid any trash blowing in the street. One day, I asked her why.
“I don’t want it to get sucked up into the exhaust!” she exclaimed. “I always worry about that happening.”
Even very young me knew that this was highly unlikely to happen. I couldn’t believe the lengths she went to avoid driving over things. She kept insisting that she was very worried that it would happen. I just knew she was crazy and that it wasn’t going to happen.
But then one day, it did. We were driving through town and a truck drove by us, sending a plastic grocery bag directly into our path. With no time to move, my mother drove right over the bag… which got sucked up into the exhaust and proceeded to melt before we could do anything. I could not believe it. For a week, we drove around with the unpleasant smell of melting plastic. My poor mother’s fear had become a reality.
As we go through life, it is easy to think about what we don’t want. After all, there are a million things nobody wants to happen to them: disease, divorce, and bankruptcy to name a few. On a smaller scale, we hope little things don’t go wrong. We hope traffic isn’t too heavy and we won’t run out of time to get things done. We hope we’ll have enough money to pay the bills and worry that we won’t. Worst of all, we worry that other people won’t like us instead of doing our best to be likeable and letting them think what they will.
Stressing over everything is an energy suck. Instead, we’re encouraged to focus on what we do want. Whether it is a promotion, a raise, a better marriage or even just physical health, focusing on what we want makes it so much easier to take the steps to obtain it. It’s a little more complicated than “wish, and make it so.” The concept is this: if your energy is focused on what you want to happen, you’re much more likely to find the necessary steps to reach your goals. If you want to stay healthy during cold and flu season, for example, you’re probably going to make more of an effort to get plenty of rest and vitamins.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t all be prepared. Unexpected things happen every day. If they didn’t, no one would need savings accounts or insurance. Definitely have a plan, but don’t worry excessively about something happening. If you spend all your time worrying about something unlikely to happen, you waste time you could spend on making your dreams come true. Above all else, thinking about what you do want is infinitely more fun than thinking about what you don’t.
Every time I see a plastic grocery bag blowing across a street, I watch. Not once have I ever seen a bag get sucked into a car’s exhaust again. Personally, I make an effort to get out of the way if I can. After all, I’ll never forget the awful smell of plastic and my poor mother’s plight. Then I laugh and think about something awesome.


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