This is how attention controls our lives. Whatever our attention is on, that’s our attitude, how we feel, and what we are thinking. If we are worried, it is only because we are worrying. If we think about something completely different, if we turn our attention to something else, we are no longer worried. If we are grieving for someone who passed away, we can put our attention on the love and pleasure they gave us. The grief leaves as happy memories fill our consciousness.
If we are angry, it is because we can’t stop ourselves from being angry or we want to enjoy the power and satisfaction of this anger. If we don’t want to be angry, we must be able to switch our attention off anger and onto positive emotion or a different attitude to the person or circumstance.
Misery is also a state of mind. It only exists because we put our attention on the situation or circumstances that are making us miserable. We can easily be cheerful by adopting a cheerful attitude.
Whatever negative thoughts, attitudes, emotions, desires, or fears are ruining your life are succeeding because you put your attention on them. They cannot affect your life adversely if you keep your attention off them.
Of course, all problems must be solved. All situations causing grief, loneliness, sorrow, and suffering must be worked through. But by disciplining yourself to sit down and work out a plan of action to help you get through adverse situations, you can switch your attention to positive action and take it off negative thoughts and emotions.
This is taking control of your life simply by the control of your attention. Happiness, peace of mind, enthusiasm, success, and cheerfulness are also states of mind. They are created by putting your attention on them instead of on the opposite negative attitudes. Why not choose feeling good rather than feeling dreadful?
Misery, grief, sorrow, inaction, and despondency can become habits. They can become the norm. They induce lethargy, laziness, indolence, and apathy. They are the easy way out. All of a sudden, you look at your life and it has become wasteful, unproductive, lonely, and depressing.
How has this happened? By falling into the trap of allowing the negative power to run thoughts, emotions, desires, and images through your mind that convince you that it is easier to accept negative attitudes, indolence, and apathy, to allow things to slide, to allow unfavorable situations to get worse by not taking positive action soon enough to rectify them.
You have lost control of your attention. You have allowed your attention to be attracted and seduced by the desire for comfort and leisure. The longer you allow this to continue, the harder it is to change your attitude and put your life back on track.
The good things in life don’t come through seeking comfort, enjoyment, and pleasurable activities. They come through using your abilities and talents to create a better life for others which will result in a better life for you as well.
This principle of switching your attention to something else is an old trick. We have all done it. Mostly unconsciously. When we get sick of doing a long monotonous or boring job, we go and do something else. We have a drink or a cup of tea. If a conversation is boring, we excuse ourselves. But maybe we haven’t thought of using this technique to change our basic attitudes, our negative thinking and feeling habits.
It is our overall negative attitudes that make our lives less happy and fulfilling. By getting into the habit of taking our attention off them, we can take greater control of our lives and bring more happiness, fulfillment, and peace of mind into them.
Before summing up, I want to remind you of another technique you can use to help you get your attention off problems that are distressing for you. It is gratitude.
If you are finding it difficult to shift your attention off your problem, get a pad and biro and list all the things that you are grateful for. Don’t throw this list away. Put it somewhere easy to find when you need it. As you add something to the list, feel grateful with as much of your whole being as you can. You will be surprised at the effect it has on your state of mind.
In the beginning, finding things to be grateful for may be difficult because your attention is on the problem. At the least, racking your brain to find something to be thankful for will help to take your mind off your problem. It may be best to think of things you like doing. These should come easily. Or the person you love most and what they do.
Another hint is to start this list when you are feeling good. Don’t wait till you have a problem and then try to start. This makes it difficult and you may discard the idea before you have any success with it.
Write down some categories you can think about when making the list, like holidays, childhood memories, things you are good at, or something you did do for someone that made you feel good.
So here we have one of the keys to a better life – attention. It is such a simple thing. But it can have a profound effect on our lives.
This is true of all spiritual and Personal Growth techniques and principles. They are simple. Sometimes they are so simple that they are easily forgotten or overlooked. Sometimes they are so simple that people won’t believe they work.
But sometimes they are hard to put into practice because our minds put up resistance to them. The mind likes the way things work. It doesn’t like changes being made. So it puts up all sorts of barriers and objections to any improvements we want to make in our thinking, emotions, and behavior. Persistence and perseverance however, will eventually teach the mind to accept new ways as habits.
These simple techniques can have a profound effect on our lives. They are dismissed by psychiatrists and other behavioral scientists because people think complicated and costly procedures will work better. They don’t, for three reasons.
They are too complicated to follow. They are too difficult to put into practice in everyday situations. They may even need someone else to assist with implementing them. They need too much rehearsal before they can be put into operation. Therefore, by the time they may start to work, which is doubtful, the person is already fed up with them.
They do not produce instant results. People nowadays expect things to work immediately so they get instant relief from their problems. Behaviors take weeks and months and years to change, not minutes or hours. We can’t have instant happiness like instant coffee. People won’t persevere if they can’t see results after a few attempts.
They are easy to give up because of their complicated nature. Anything that is difficult to learn can be self-defeating for the reasons cited above. No-one has the patience anymore to learn procedures simply to change behaviors that are not life-threatening. If they are going to die, they will learn what will keep them alive.
But they will put up with unhappiness forever rather than follow complicated and costly procedures that are of doubtful usefulness.
Consciousness, awareness, and attention are important for anyone who desires a better life. They are certainly worthy of study because a grasp of the concepts involved is necessary to understand how important our inner lives are to our happiness, freedom, fulfillment, and peace of mind.