“A penny will hide the biggest star in the universe if you hold it close enough to your eye.”
—Samuel Grafton, 20th Century American Journalist
Image from Unsplash by Daniil Kuželev
We all experience hyper-focus from time to time. Some top priority grabs our complete attention and the rest of the world just disappears.
What are the benefits and costs to you personally and professionally in such situations? What is one such priority that comes to mind today or in the recent past where this was an opportunity or an issue?
Where in your life is keeping things too close blocking your view of other stars that need your attention?
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
—Jessica Howell, American actress and producer
Image from Unsplash by Zdeněk Macháček
Consider the concepts of entropy and order.
The first is about how things pursue a random path of coming apart. The second pertains to things coming together in a more organized state.
Where have some of the good things in your life and our world fallen apart? How many of these issues are related to entropy, bad luck, or perhaps our lack of attention and effort to bring order to these matters?
Where are things beginning to fall together—not by chance, but by individuals and communities of shared vision and values choosing to create their own good once again?
Where and how can you play a bigger, more positive role in your world so that better things will fall together? Consider placing the following quote by Desmond Tutu somewhere you will see it often—and consider reading my post about it from a few years ago.
“Do your little bit of good whoever you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
“Your attention is being spammed all day long.”
—Michael S. Hyatt, American Leadership Expert
Image from Unsplash by Stephen Phillips
We can all easily think of a handful of spammy occurrences in our day, and agree that spam is something we detest and wish to avoid. Many of us have begun using spam detection and elimination tools to lighten the load.
Despite our efforts, few of us experience the full level of peace, calm, and freedom we desire throughout our days.
Over the past few decades, top astrophysicists introduced the phenomena of dark matter as the reason galaxies are held together in diverse and beautiful shapes. It is estimated that there is actually five times as much dark matter as regular matter that makes up the stars and planets we see.
What if there were five times the amount of spam than what we actually detect?
How might looking into the dark world of spam and its gravitational pull on our attention release us to lead far better lives?
“Rather than choose ‘all’ or ‘nothing,’ choose ‘a little something.’”
—Chip & Dan Heath – Decisive
Image from Amazon
It seems like it is necessary to “go big or go home” in order to get attention these days. The noise levels are so high that all in efforts are required to stand out.
How is this approach working for you or others in your personal and professional communities?
Growing up, my parents and grandparents believed that being loud and proud was not the path of a good life, and that humility and doing most things in moderation was the way to go.
Where in your life would taking the “a little something” approach be the wisest strategy to pursue? Where would finding a more moderate middle ground offer the right balance you may be seeking?
“For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us everyday.”
—Evelyn Underhill, 20th Century English writer and pacifist
Image from Unsplash by Chase Clark
I can still recall that I received an “E” in work habits in first grade at Creighton Elementary School in Philadelphia.
The exact words written by my teacher, Mrs. Gray were, “Barry has difficulty paying attention.”
Things must have improved a bit since I ended up with a “B” by the end of the year.
How is your level of focus and attention on your personal and professional priorities these days?
How engaged are you in your key relationships? Given the many distracting challenges facing all of us, what has your attention? To what degree are you fully observing the good and loveliness in the world?
Consider going back to the old game of Hide and Seek to focus on the many forms of loveliness all around. What approaches and strategies will you employ to not let them elude you?
“Stop watering things that were never meant to grow in your life. Water what works, what’s good, what’s right.”
—T.D. Jakes, American pastor, author and filmmaker
Image from Unsplash by Markus Spiske
Fast forward about two months to early spring. Go outside and take a look at your lawn and your flower beds. You are just about to turn on the automatic sprinklers and all outside hoses are ready to water the hard-to-reach areas.
You take a closer look at the state of these areas and see that the most robust growth seems to be mostly weeds. What do you do before flipping the switch?
Where are you currently watering the weeds in your life?
What gardening efforts are called for so that you have more of what works, what is good, and what is right growing and blossoming in your life?
“When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, scientist, writer, and meditation teacher
Image from Unsplash by Callie Morgan
Did you know that there are three types of boredom, each involving problems of engagement and attention? They are times when:
- We are prevented from engaging in desired activities
- We are forced to participate in unwanted activities
- We are simply unable – for whatever reason – to maintain our level of engagement in an activity
For some, boredom may be taken as the essential human condition to which God, Wisdom, or Morality are the ultimate answer. Many sources note that boredom can be a dangerous and disruptive state of mind that can negatively influence our health. Meanwhile, some research suggests that without boredom we could not realize many of our most creative achievements.
Where in your personal or professional life do you find yourself over-stimulated and even a bit addicted to the attention-grabbing objects and experiences around you?
Where would seeking more quiet and even boring moments in your life be a time for renewal and personal growth?
“By going out of your mind, you come to your senses.”
—Alan Watts, 20th Century British-American philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Zac Durant
Have you ever considered that going out of our minds was a good thing?
Not in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest way, but in a quieting the inner voice/monkey mind way.
During a recent meditation session, the instructor led me through an exercise that focused on each of the five senses. With this shift of focus, I noticed a considerable reduction and even a few momentary stoppages of mental chatter and a greater sense of calm and presence.
Consider spending 60 seconds on each of your five senses. Make a note or two regarding what you perceived:
Where in your life would going out of your mind and coming to your senses have the greater benefit?
“When something small loudly demands all of our attention, its noise often drowns out the whisper of what’s enormously important.”
—Craig Groeschel, American Clergyman
Image from Unsplash by Sai de Silva
We live in a very noisy world. If you are like many folks these days, the decibel levels and shiny object distractions have reached new heights and the pace is accelerating exponentially.
Although there are extraordinary opportunities through the abundance of these worldly demands for our attention, we all require gaps in our days to recharge and renew.
Create two lists for your personal and professional life. Label the first list Important Whispers and the second Loud Demands.
What strategies can and will you employ to increase the time for items on the first, and reduce or perhaps eliminate items from the second?