Focus Is Key To Happiness
You have the right to choose how you spend your time and energy. The more time spent thinking and working toward something, the more momentum it will accumulate. The accumulation of this energy will begin to expand and you will find that things will start to show up in your life that move you toward your focus.
The Possible Scenario
You decide that you want to become better at yoga. You’ve been practicing about an hour, once or twice a week, during the past year. Mainly you are accessing videos that you stream or you use that outdated method and pop in DVDs. Now you find some more time and include live classes into your practice. The instructors are able to provide you with guidance on how to achieve greater strength and flexibility. This increases your time spent practicing yoga to about 3 or 4 times a week, using a combination of at home and in-person instruction. Next, you start to hear rumblings that the instructor you really like is going to be teaching a 200-hour instructor class and you begin to feel the urge to pay that $2500 and become certified to teach yoga. The next week you sign up for the class, give your down payment and go online and buy some props to enhance your yoga practice. The yoga instruction begins and you go every other week to your training sessions. You are truly enjoying learning more about the practice. Your instructor tells you that you are a natural and would benefit from further practice outside of the class. Walking away with a smile on your face, you go home and squeeze in another yoga session after you walk through your front door. You start to notice that many of your conversations with family and friends are centered around yoga. The websites and social media you are drawn to are yoga based. There is an excitement bubbling inside you as you become a stronger yogi and begin to seek out places you may be able to teach after you receive your certification. The infiltration of yoga in your life creates a joy you haven’t felt for as long as you can remember. You think, maybe I can quit my job and open up my own studio some day. Wouldn’t that be nice?!
The Shift in Focus
Yoga continues to diffuse throughout your daily life, creating an infectious smile that appears every time you daydream about the possibilities this new found passion may bring you. Out of the blue, you receive a call from a friend who is in distress and needs you to be there for them. Of course you oblige, you want to be a good friend. Then you hear that a colleague in your office quit and you will be left picking up the extra work. As the weeks go by, your friend continues to need your support and your work becomes more stressful. The amount of work at your everyday job is taxing and your focus is turned toward what needs to be done for them. The anxiety and stress begins to pile up and you feel less motivated to go to your yoga classes. You paid for the yoga instruction so you continue to go, but the extra time you were spending on your own practice and reading up on yoga begins to diminish. Your conversations with others become less about yoga and more about the duties at work that are piling up. The pep in your step that you were experiencing from your yoga practice becomes a distant memory. The contagious smile you brought wherever you went is now disappearing. You are caught up in things that contribute to the dismantling of your joy and it happens so quickly that you don’t even realize the positive momentum you have slipping away.
Your mind flipped back to the things that you were conditioned to do; take care of others and dedicate yourself to your day-to-day job that provides income, even though it doesn’t bring you the excitement and joy that is beneficial in your life. You rationalized what was happening, thinking that even though you love yoga and the practice, you have other responsibilities that are more pressing at the moment and when they settle down you will again devout much of your time to yoga. This may be true, but sooner or later there will be situations that pop up again that will take you away from the activities that bring you joy and the cycle will begin again. Before these other circumstances took your focus, the yoga practice was moving along smoothly and gaining a great deal of traction and potential. Unfortunately, the shift in your focus took you away from what you enjoyed doing and had you engage in doing what you felt you needed to do.
Why Did This Happen?
You allowed distractions. First, you allowed your friend’s happiness and care to become more important than your own happiness and care. We are taught that it is selfish to take care of ourselves before others, but the only way to be able to be there for others is to take care of ourselves first. If we start to unravel because we are not taking care of ourselves then it will be quite difficult to help out a friend in need. Of course, it is wonderful to be there for a friend, but if it becomes a distraction from your own personal priorities and self-care then the friend should seek help in more professional ways. Second, unless your career is the center of your life because you absolutely love what you are doing and it fills you up everyday, then your job should not be overtaking your joy in other things and/or your self-care. Some of us convince ourselves that it is our responsibility to pick up the slack at work even though we are not being paid for that extra work or in many cases not even appreciated for the additional hours and effort. It is crucial that we are consistently monitoring and evaluating where we are focusing our time and energy, this includes both thoughts and action. If we are not vigilant about where our focus is directed we will just do what we have been conditioned to do. Once we find things that fill us up, make us happy, bring us joy, something we want to spend our time engaged in, then we must remain aware of the amount of time and energy we give toward those endeavors.
Even though I used yoga as the example, you can substitute anything in its place. Most of us stay stuck in current situations that do not make us happy for many reasons, but just by shifting our focus toward things that do bring us happiness we are able to get the momentum moving in that direction and that momentum will open up more opportunities for activities that bring us cheer. Eventually the things that don’t bring us joy become less and less and we start to move in the direction of what truly brightens our spirit.
Take a moment and think about what you spend time thinking about and doing. Notice where your focus is and what is most prevalent in your life. Then if you find that you are not engaged in the activity or activities that bring you joy, shift your focus and start to do little steps to start the momentum that will change your current situation to one that brings you more happiness.