Episode #31: Say You're Here, Now.
focus your attention on what you want to be....
Yesterday was one of my all-time favorite holidays, #StarWarsDay, aka, #Maythe4th be with you.
To celebrate I thought I’d share with you a quote from a famous Jedi who appeared in an infamous movie, Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
The Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn says in passing to his padawan (apprentice):
“Your focus determines your reality.”
I love this quote because it speaks at its highest level to the nature of our reality: what you notice is what you experience.
The instruction helps us see that where our focus lies matters greatly. If you are scrolling through your Facebook feed with the TV on while listening to music your reality is likely distracted and saturated with stimulation—not to mention stress.
Likewise, if you are checking your phone at the family grill-out while your kids are doing cart-wheels in the grass, your experience is also one of distraction—did you notice the kids or the ESPN score? You can only have one of those realities, not both, despite what you might have tricked yourself into thinking.
The truth is multi-tasking is mythical and inefficient (no matter how caffeinated you might be).
If your colleague is talking to you about their new idea but you are thinking about your upcoming zoom, your reality is one where your colleague hasn’t been heard, and indeed, exists as a different reality than the one your colleague lives in. Repeated instances like these are likely to lead to some intense miscommunications further down the road.
This isn’t to say that doing any of those things or thinking those things are wrong. Go ahead and scroll Facebook, check those scores, your stocks, and of course, this newsletter!😀
Qui-Gon’s point is that *where* you direct your attention is equal to *what* comprises your understanding of the “right now.”
From another perspective, this time from a place not so far away and from a time not so long ago, we can learn from the Roman slave turned Stoic philosopher, Epictetus:
"You become what you give your attention […]
If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will."
Just as with Qui-Gon’s “your focus determines your reality,” Epictetus reminds us that not only does our reality become where we focus our attention, so does our identity.
We become that which our attention is directed.
Practically, these bits of wisdom help us put a check on what fires we’re feeding in our own lives and minds. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own narratives of what’s going on around us, what he said, she said (or didn’t say), how they made us feel (or not feel), and how we are missing out on this, that, and the other thing (ref. FOMO)—these two bits of wisdom remind us that we choose where we focus our attention.
If you’re sick and tired of feeling a certain way or overthinking a certain situation it is because your focus and your attention have lasered in on those things. Your conception of the current moment has become intertwined with that feeling and your identity wrapped up in that overthought narrative.
To break free, invite a Productive Conflict into your psyche by redirecting your focus.
Bring your attention to the other elements that share your reality—ideally, those elements that can help you construct a more positive narrative in your life.
Remember, you are what you focus on. Your reality is where your attention lies.
And, may the force be with you (I had to say it)!
— Dr. Craig