a little wordy

because words can inspire

Focus

Michele Viner
v. pay particular attention to

My daughter, Emma, is in the process of deciding what university she is going to attend.  She applied to seven schools and was granted acceptances at all seven.  I think she thought that she wouldn’t get into all of them and that the decision would be made for her, but no such luck for my very smart daughter.  Now she is agonizing over which school to choose.

Just as a short aside.  When I was in grade 12 and preparing to go to university I lobbied to add my biology mark to Billy Tannor’s biology mark just so one of us could pass.  Billy was a kid in my class who had the same acumen in biology that I had.  Let’s just say, it didn’t work out the way we hoped, although I think we might each have managed to eke out a 51 on the promise we would drop sciences.  

But I digress.

Too much choice?  Seems to me to be a good problem to have.

And at the end of the day, is the choice the real issue, or is it our ability to concentrate and evaluate long enough to make that choice?

This week’s word is focus.  I think we are a generation of people who are struggling with the ability to do so. 

Every time we turn around we are being pinged, beeped, rung and insta’d this or that.  It used to be that someone who could be paged on the spot was a VIP who was saving lives.  Now we are being paged to bring home milk.  Even since I have typed these 282 words my phone has yelled at me four times and every time I have gone to it, like a gerbil to a pellet when they hear a bell.  And no.  In case you are wondering, none of them required any life saving actions at all.  Thankfully.

So.  The question is.  How do we develop focus?  How do we create the quiet in our lives to actually be able to hear our little voices; the voices that are so wise.  The voices that help us to make our decisions.

Many years ago when I worked for an industrial psychologist, she gave me advice that I have never forgotten.  I think maybe there was a lot of stuff going on in my life at the time and I was having trouble concentrating on my job.

“Treat your mind like its a puppy,” she told me.

Her instruction was to let the “puppy” wander the room and explore at reckless abandon for five minutes.  And then, coax the puppy back into my lap and ask it kindly and gently to remain there for the next five minutes.

The wandering puppy represented the chaos in our minds and the inability to focus.  The puppy in the lap represented the ability to quiet those thoughts for a brief period of time and train our minds to quieten.  The idea would be that eventually the puppy could sit for longer than five minutes.

“And you must do so kindly,” she advised.  “You would never yell at a little puppy, so you must not admonish yourself for feeling distracted.  That just makes things worse.”

Over the years I have used that advice many times.  Now I am passing it along to my daughter.

Emma’s facing a major decision that will impact her life for the next four years.  Maybe you are facing a much smaller choice.  Either way, coax the puppy into your lap and get quiet and focus.

The answer will be there.