Your Focus – Your Choice

I am a naturally optimistic person. Without thinking, I can see the silver lining in most situations. Granted, sometimes it takes me a little while longer when things are extreme. However, once there, that’s where I live.

Recently a situation was in front of me that was just that… extreme. In fact, there wasn’t just one thing going on, there were multiple things and they were coming from every angle. At the time when I needed support more than ever, I had multiple friends who were there for me. I received very positive and supportive things from them via text, email, phone call, handwritten cards and in person, hugs and kind words. And as I tried to find the bright side of my situation there were also some very negative and unkind things said. Some were downright cruel. I’m going to take the positive view on this one and say, I’m sure they meant well…

If I choose to find the bright side of things, does it mean I’m not facing reality? Am I being blind to the facts? Living in my own little world? Do I believe that everything is always butterflies and rainbows? No…

I know that things are bad. In fact just as I’ve had more than my fair share, you probably have too. I realize life is full of negativity, disappointment, sadness, ugliness, and darkness. But it’s my choice where I place my focus. Mine and mine alone. And even with all of that previously stated negativity, I can see that I have a good life. I’m happy. And I’m surrounded by beauty and love and most importantly, hope. That is where I place my focus and that is happily my choice.

It is also your choice. Where does your focus lie? If you see the darkness in every situation, that is exactly what you will have, a dark life. And if you like it that way, this article is not for you. However, when your focus is on the positive that is what you will see and get.

For me, it started when I was very small. My mom told me one day when I was feeling particularly sad for whatever reason, “Tara, you need to count your blessings.” Being the very literal child that I was (and still am) I sat down on my bed and began to count on my fingers…
1. My mom
2. My sister
3. My grandparents
4. My Barbies
5. My dog
6. I had a place to live
7. The fresh bread my mom just made
8. Mud Puddles
9. Snow
10. …
As I continued to count, do you know what happened? I forgot what I was sad about. Yes, I was a child of 6, and when things got to be too much for my little mind, I would always go back to counting my blessings. It is a practice that has stayed with me to this day.

So what can you do if you want to change your focus? Things are bad, but you want to focus on the good? Here are a few things you can do or ways to “Count your blessings” or identify what is good.

Who and what are you grateful for?
What is going right?
What progress have you made?
What has changed for the good?
What is the smallest sliver of good in the situation? (Yes, sometimes you do need to look really hard)

Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes you may feel as though you are grasping at straws and the only positive thing you can come up with is the empathy you will have for someone else when they may be going through the same thing or something similar.

Do you see what all of the things above have in common? The focus has changed to something or someone else. We can wallow and get lost in our thoughts and they can overtake us or we can change the focus to something else and begin to move beyond it.

Once you have those things in mind, then focus on it. This is where my “rosy glasses” come into play. Make your focus be on the progress, the change, the new way to see something or the new structure that it has given you and the knowledge you have attained. I find myself saying things like, “Well, one good thing is…” or “At least we will….” Or “I always wanted to have a new…” Find what works for the situation you’re in and place your focus there. I choose to focus on the good. In fact, I love looking for the positive aspect of something. For me, it almost becomes a game!

So what’s next?

You know that thing in the back of your mind right now that is weighing on you or could be getting you down? Find at least one positive thing, no matter how small it is and focus there. When we choose to find or look for the good that is what we will attract. It is a fact that people with a positive outlook on life are happier people.

Remember it is a choice and the choice is up to you. I chose to focus on the good.