Where are you putting your attention?
“They themselves are makers of themselves” by virtue of the thoughts which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness. ~ James Allen
When we are awake our thoughts go to wherever we put our attention. If lightning strikes and a loud bang of thunder rings, our thoughts may turn to whether we are safe and we may feel scared or excited? Or, we may we will think about Benjamin Franklin and how he discovered that lighting was an electric current.
And, then maybe we will think how Benjamin Franklin discovered the lightning was an electric current. Needless to say, the moment before the lightning struck our thoughts were most likely not on lightning, and after the lightning struck they most definitely were on lightning.
The fuel of our thoughts is attention — wherever we put our attention our thoughts will follow. For example, if lightning continues to strike and the thunder becomes louder and louder, we will indubitably put more and more attention on the real and potential dangers of lightning.
Attention Grabber (lightning and thunder) → Thoughts (Am I safe?) → Emotions (I am feeling scared.) → Actions (Stay Indoors) (morph, rinse and repeat)
The challenge is that everything — our body, our emotions, our friends, our families, all the screens in our lives (computers, iPhone, televisions) and that Starbucks down the street — are vying for our attention at the same time. I often beat myself up when I get to the end of the day and realize that nothing I wanted to do was accomplish.
We need to ask ourselves two questions: (1) Where am I putting my attention? and (2) What needs is this fulfilling? For example, if we keep going to NYTimes to read the news, or flip through some television channels or check our iPhone for emails. Why are we doing this? Is there some piece of news that is very important that we need to stay up-to-speed on? Is there some TV show we are looking for? Is there some important email we are expecting? Or, is it because we do not want to be doing what we are doing? Or, is it because we are bored? Or, is it because we are scared and we want relief from the fear?