What you focus on expands.

This truth is true in all areas of life. Focus on the pain in your foot and you will feel more pain. Focus on the beautiful day and you will see beauty all around you. Focus on the dirt on the kitchen floor and you will notice dirt on all of your floors.

Why? 60-80,000 thoughts pass through our brain each day. We are not capable taking the time to consciously think each of those thoughts. Instead, our brain chooses which thoughts to focus on based on many factors, mostly unconscious ones: habit, our surroundings, and yes, our focus. Ever notice how, if you’re looking to buy a new car, say a Toyota Highlander, you suddenly notice a lot more Toyotas on the road? Are there more on the road? No. You are directing your brain to focus on those details.

This month my blogs have addressed many aspects of relationships. Let’s take the truth that what you focus on expands and use it to help us find peace and joy in our relationships.

I have three sons. If I focus on how messy they are, they will seem even messier. I will notice their clothes on the floor, their muddy shoes, their unbrushed hair. If I focus on their joyful energy, I will see their quick smiles, their jumping bodies, their joie de vivre. It’s up to me. Do I want to focus on their muddy shoes or those energetic feet wearing those shoes?

I also have an ex-husband. If I focus on the challenge we have interacting, I will read into his language in emails and notice the difficulty we have discussing finances. However, if I focus on how much easier it is to parent with him as an ex-spouse versus a spouse, I see the benefit of email communication and the flexibility of shared carpools. Again, it’s up to me: what do I want to focus on?

What we focus on expands. If you think your boss is unreasonable, you are going to look for all sorts of evidence to support that thought. If you think your spouse is lazy, you notice all sorts of ways that he is lazy. If you think he is helpful, you will notice all the ways that he’s helpful. Are you asking your powerful brain to focus on what he doesn’t do or what he does do? Do yourself a favor and choose to focus on what you want and what you have (versus what you don’t want and what you don’t have).

“Simple but not easy”

This sounds easy but it is not. It is a simple concept: change what you focus on; but it is not easy to change your thought patterns. Your brain is programed to look for the negative in a situation and our society supports our brain in doing that. There are amazingly wonderful things happening in this world every single day but what do we read about in the paper or hear on the news? The negative. Our days contain outstandingly awesome things (from a metal box taking us up 20 stories in under 2 minutes to a small, hand-held appliance allowing us to talk with someone on the other side of the world) yet we get upset with someone cutting in front of us in traffic.

Bring awareness to what you’re focusing on in your relationships this week. How are the things you’re focusing on making you feel about that person and your relationship with them?

What you focus on expands. What do you want to expand? Bonus points if you share in comments below…

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