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  • Martha Engeman

What You Focus on Grows

Last week I was speaking with a client about the news. We were talking about the typical evening newscast which contains about 90% bad news with about 10% good news at the end. What if it was the opposite? What if 90% of the news was good news with 10% bad news at the end? How differently would we perceive the world and humankind?

Where your attention goes, your life experience flows.

Yesterday, I spent the morning with some friends in a field of sunflowers in Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh. The sunflowers were breathtaking--tall with magnificent green stalks and leaves and joyful yellow heads as far as the eye could see. There were several groups of people, exploring the sunflowers, getting family pictures taken, running along the paths between row after row of sunflowers. Everyone was smiling, laughing and enjoying the majesty and beauty of the sunflowers. It felt like a joy magnet for the people who had come to see them and for the city of Raleigh.

Where your attention goes, your life experience flows.

Most of us read the book Lord of the Flies in school. In the fictional book, a group of British school boys are stranded on an island and descend into tribalism and violence. It’s a grim view of humanity and posits the theory that without civilization, humanity is lost.

Last night I saw a story about an actual group of boys in Tonga in 1965 who decided to escape their boarding school by taking a boat to sea. They ended up getting lost and drifting ashore on an island where they lived for 15 months in a spirit of cooperation and harmony. They figured out how to get food and create fire and shelter. They also learned to deal with conflict by going to different parts of the island to cool down. These boys didn’t descend into anarchy but rather created a life together until they were found.

What if humans are basically good, with some flaws, instead of flawed, with some good qualities?

Where your attention goes, your life experience flows.

Where do you choose to focus your attention? What do you notice when you are around people who see the glass half full and those who see the glass half empty? We always have a choice as to how we perceive anything. As Victor Frankl said, “Eveything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”


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