June 3, 2020 |

Where to Focus

The world is a noisy place. The noise level has increased substantially over the past 100 years and increased exponentially in the past 10 – 15.  There are many distractions, and new ones are continually added to the old ones – which recur because humans keep repeating their past mistakes.

It’s largely these distractions that led us away from a simpler existence that kept us grounded.  Some of that simpler existence was because – paradoxically – things used to be more complicated…or at a minimum, less convenient.  Life required more effort. There weren’t so many services at our disposal. There weren’t so many buttons to do things for us.  Groceries didn’t appear at our door 24 hours after a mouse click.  You get the idea.

Fulfilling responsibilities became easier. Then, subtly, they stopped being responsibilities. Human nature devalues things we don’t work for; that we don’t earn. The satisfaction of the effort/reward equation got hacked. “If you thought getting something after working for it was great…WAIT until you experience getting something for NO EFFORT!  It’s amazing!”  Once that mentality caught fire, the spread was imminent. And soon, it was no longer about making things easier. It was a way of life.

It changed our focus.  Actually, change isn’t what happened.  Our focus got shattered into lots of little pieces. Instead of prioritizing important things and focusing accordingly, we now give a hundred things one percent each.  An objective assessment of society today makes this painfully obvious.

How do we pull out of it? The answer is elegantly simple, and it has two parts:

1) Personal responsibility

2) Focus on what’s right in front of you

Personal responsibility: Take a quick inventory of what’s most important in your life. You know what you need to do. You know the difference between right and wrong. You know how to treat others. Take personal responsibility for your actions in those three areas of your life. Let your actions be an example you would want your children to follow.

Focus on what’s right in front of you.  I had a friend once who said, “God puts your most important work right in front of you.” That made a lot of sense to me. What’s right in front of you? Day-to-day? Moment-to-moment?  Your spouse. Your family, Your job.  Other humans. An opportunity to do a good deed; to practice kindness, patience, goodness. To be positive. You don’t even have to look for it.  What’s right in front of you? Right now?  Focus on THAT.

If we all did a better job of those two things, our immediate surroundings would improve rapidly. And soon, the bigger picture would change.  There’s no hack for this one, because it IS the hack.  Give it a try. Then pay attention to what happens next.