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Change your life by shifting your focus

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that your attitude and your focus color your reality.

Two months ago I was in Kansas City training a talented group of emerging leaders.

When I returned to the hotel after the event, I felt miserable. Though the training received positive reviews, I couldn’t help but obsesses over the parts that didn’t go as well as I wanted them to. Then, I started thinking about the parts of my personal life that were lacking. Before long, I felt miserable and broken down. Though I’m reluctant to admit it, this trend of negativity and feeling down had been creeping into my life more and more frequently.

After feeling crappy for longer than I care to admit, something clicked in Kansas City. I realized that my bad mood was ultimately my own fault and that the world will look like whatever I focus on.

If you focus on everything around you that’s not working, you’re going to feel broken because your world appears to be filled with broken things. When you feel broken you have almost no chance of being truly effective or happy.

On the other hand, if you focus on what’s going well and the things and people that you love, then you’ll start to feel connected, capable, and with a bit of luck, happy. Over time these feelings will lead you to becoming more and more effective each day.

The question I’ve been asking myself since Kansas City: how can I control my focus so that I am paying more attention to what’s working, and draw out the positive thoughts, feelings, and attributes of my personality, so that I don’t get drowned out by my own negativity and perfectionism?

I want to share three strategies that have worked well for me, so that you can leverage them too.

1) Stop complaining. The interplay between the words that come out of your mouth and how you feel is complicated, but one thing is clear: the more you complain, the crappier you feel. I’ve been taking the Complaint Free World challenge and I love it. The goal of the Complaint Free World Challenge is to go 21 consecutive days without complaining, gossiping, or criticizing. So far I’ve gone three straight days.

WARNING: this challenge is way harder than you think it will be. As of today, I’ve only gone three straight days (though my record was eight earlier this month).

You can learn more on the challenge’s website here, and read about my previous experience with the challenge here.

2) Start your day by reading something positive or inspiring when you wake up. For the past few months, the first thing I’ve done every morning when I wake up, is read a few pages from a book about positive attitude. This helps set the tone for the day, and will focus your brain. Though there are tons of attitude books out there, my three favorites are:
·         “Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude” by Jeffrey Gitomer
·         “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (note: to read this book only as a book on financial wealth is an incomplete reading)
·         “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra

3) Notice one great thing about each day. After dinner I like to send a text to one of my friends  asking, “Hey, what was the best part of your day today? Mine was…” This forces me to focus on the best part of the day and reconnects me with a friend. Though it’s embarrassing to admit, when I’ve been in a bad mood I usually forget that anything good at all has even happened. This simple text ensures that I notice at least one good thing each day, and often leads to noticing many more.

The world will look like whatever you focus on
One of the most important things that I can tell you is that the world will look like whatever you focus on. You can train your attention however you like. For 99% of millennials in modernity, the default attitude and attention is focused on what’s wrong and that leads to far more darkness and powerlessness than is necessary. Me, I’m working hard every day to change from focusing on what’s wrong, to what’s right. I hope you do the same because the payoffs personally, professionally, and in your relationships are profound.

So my question to you: what’s going well in your life right now?

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2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Change your life by shifting your focus”

  1. Jill Foster October 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Jason – I appreciate this potent and timely insight. Thanks for the mental uplift.

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