Are you focusing on the right things?
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Whenever my clients come to me for positivity training the first thing I ask them is where they are focusing their energy. We all have a desire to move forward confidently with our grand plans, but when we take an honest look at where we’ve been focusing our energy we often find that we’ve been missing the mark because we are simply focusing on the wrong things.
Check Your Focus
The good news is you can check to see where your focus is right now! In the picture below I’ve hidden the following "positive" words:
Engage, Empower, Encourage, Enjoyment, Excellence, Clarity, Confidence, Courage, Kindness, Empathy
Take a moment or two now to see how many you can find.
Did you find any?
Don’t continue unless you found at least a couple positive words.
Okay, I believe you.
Depending on how closely you worked on this exercise perhaps you noticed that there are more words hidden in this puzzle than just the ones listed. The words hidden in this puzzle fall under two categories: “Positive” and “Negative.” In fact, there is an equal number of positive words as negative words—20 in all—but if you did as I suggested then chances are you found more positive words than negative words. The reason for this is that you were focused on looking for the positive rather than the negative.
We Tend To Get What We Look For
We get what we focus on and we will see what we are looking for. This idea is similar to what scientists call a confirmation bias, a tendency to interpret information according to our preexisting worldview—in this case the preconditioned desire to find what we are looking for. The very act of deciding to look for something makes the object of our desire more visible, like a yellow highlighter on a page screaming to be noticed.
Falling into extreme cases of confirmation bias can create problems (e.g. when we give unfounded meaning to the random and meaningless), however we can also use confirmation bias in healthy ways that develop and foster positivity. This can be especially helpful for those who are not naturally positive, or for those who have been “down in the dumps” lately.
It's not always easy to stay positive, especially when the unexpected happens, but by remembering that this is a daily practice rather than a one-and-done solution you can keep your expectations in perspective as you strive to focus on the things to be glad about.
What are YOU focusing on?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.