Have you ever stopped to think about the effect that your focus has on your life? At any given time, each of us is mentally focused on certain ideas.
For example, if you’re focused on the idea of buying a new car soon, you’ll experience a heightened awareness of the cars on the road. You’ll start to hear about cars for sale and the state of the market. You’ll find yourself researching various makes and models, and you’ll easily notice any car you happen upon with a for sale sign in its window.
In contrast, the enormous plethora of ideas that you aren’t focused on will tend to have very little or no influence on your life. We can only focus on a certain amount of things at a time, and what we choose will have an effect.
Of course, focus can be positive or negative. Imagine beginning your day by committing to jotting down all of the good things that you encounter throughout the day. You would find yourself suddenly noticing all sorts of otherwise ordinary, yet decidedly positive things. You might appreciate how delicious your morning coffee is, or how beautiful the clouds appear in the sky. You might ponder what an amazing thing it is to have running water and electricity as you brush your teeth. You might delight in the kindness of a stranger who holds a door open for you.
Even if things go wrong during this day, you would likely look back upon it as a decidedly good day. You may even extend that thought to the realization that your life is a decidedly good life.
Similarly, a negative focus can lead you to believe that a day—or a life—isn’t so good. Imagine that you’re harboring a sense of fear and worry. Perhaps you’ve been consuming a high volume of news reports or talking with your neighbors about local problems in the community. One day, you begin to notice all sorts of phenomena that support your fears. Perhaps you read in the paper about a robbery near your home. Maybe your car gets scratched in a parking lot, and no note is left. Maybe you run into a disgruntled cashier who’s rude to you. You may notice a child behaving poorly in a restaurant.
Suddenly, the world seems to be confirming to you that it’s all going south, that your fears are well-founded, that you’ve had a terrible day, or even that you’re having a terrible life.
Now, imagine that both days described are actually the same day. The difference is only the focus.
There’s good in this life, just as there’s bad. You get to choose the way in which you focus your mind.
Impact on Those Around You
A person who can focus their mind in a positive direction will go through life uplifting the people around them. They’ll maintain a sense of optimism and believe that they can accomplish the things they set out to do. They feel compassion for others and will look upon life in a broad-minded way, acting as a shining light of hope to all who enter their sphere of influence.
A person with a negative mindset will drag others down around them. They’ll share their pessimism and limit themselves in what they’re able to accomplish. They’ll look upon others with suspicion and disdain, and they’ll continue to restrict and cut themselves off from possibility. They’ll see their social circle dwindle, and those who they do influence may become guarded and jaded as well.
Should you aim to see only the positive in life and ignore everything that’s negative? Of course not. Life is chock-full of big and small problems that we need confident and capable people to face head-on.
However, if you’re overly negative in your focus, facing such problems will come as extra challenging for you.
So as you move on from this article, take a moment to recognize the things you’ve been focused on lately. Are you fearful, anxious, angry, or pessimistic? Can you recall when you first began focusing your thoughts in this way? Can you begin to redirect that focus toward a more positive trajectory?
Give it a try and see what happens—not only to your outlook on life but also to the people and environment around you.