“The quality of your life is determined by the focus of your attention.”
– Cheri Huber
This quote by Zen Buddhist Monk Cheri Huber is such a powerful one because it is so empowering. I consider myself a world class stewer. I can take a negative event and hold onto it, stewing about it for an eternity. Rehashing it. Getting worked up over it again and again. I’m not sure where that comes from. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe that negative space is so familiar that it’s just a habitual patterned response. Maybe I use it as an excuse. If I get all worked up over something, I don’t have the time or energy to devote to the things that really matter, like my relationships and my yoga practice. It’s really nothing more than a distraction. Whatever the reason, I came to the realization that I don’t like being there. I also came to the realization that I have a choice. I can redirect my thoughts away from negativity to a positive place.
Now this is not an excuse to get all pollyanna. It doesn’t mean pretend things are just fine when they are not. Sometimes things suck. We need to be true to our feelings, otherwise we will find ourselves with a whole nother set of dysfunction! But how often do we dwell on things, letting them almost take on a life of their own? How often do we allow ourselves to hold on to negative thoughts much long than is useful, giving them much more mental and emotional energy than they deserve?
This shift away from negative thoughts to positive ones has been surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Several times I woke up in the morning in a surly mood. Normally I would just go with it, being easily irritated by every little thing. I decided instead, one morning, to talk myself down from this emotional ledge, asking myself (with genuine interest) what I’m really upset about. I could come up with no good answer, so I decided to redirect my thoughts and find something to be happy about. I found quite a lot! As I redirect my thoughts’ course to a positive direction, I realize that often the negative road is nothing more than habit. The most important phrase in this paragraph is “I DECIDED”. My state of mind is wholly under my control. When I blame another circumstance or person I take responsibility and power away from myself, and place it in someone else’s hands. It’s incredibly satisfying to take it back!
Last week I was in the presence of several people who modeled this approach for me in the most beautiful way. I took a trip to Virginia for my nephew’s wedding. Unfortunately, so did Hurricane Joaquin! Instead of stewing about it and going all bridezilla, my now niece-in-law, along with my nephew, the wedding party, and parents chose to focus on what really mattered. The celebration of these two wonderful people who found each other, love each other, and chose to spend their lives together. It was a wet, windy and joyful couple of days. Thanks Chelsea Greene Moore and David Moore. Happy Days!