Present Perfect

For better or worse, with all good intentions, most of us were taught to focus on “what’s wrong“ rather than “what’s right“.

When you were growing up, when you made mistakes, how often was the focus placed on what you did wrong, rather than what you did right?

We live in a culture of cynicism – trust no one, life sucks and then you die. It’s everywhere – on TV, in the newspaper, as an essential part of our daily vocabulary. We are trained to be cynical, to find fault in ourselves and others, to feel badly when we make mistakes, to talk badly to ourselves (aloud or not), and depending on how much exposure we’ve had to modern therapy, even to talk badly to ourselves about talking badly to ourselves.

We attract more of what we focus on. So what does this kind of behavior get us? You guessed it, more of the same.

It’s a vicious circle.

Does this mean that we should ignore problems and mistakes, pretend they don’t exist, sweep them under the rug?

Of course not.

The amount of emotion we give to an idea determines how much importance we give it unconsciously.

The more we convince our unconscious that something is important, the more it brings similar things to our attention.

The more emotion we attach to a problem, the more difficult it is to solve it.

What if, instead of obsessing about a problem, we tried to calmly figure out what we’re going to do about it next?

What if we took another moment, and looked for a few positive things about the situation to focus on instead?

There’s virtually always an upside to anything, and the more we focus on that, the more upside we get.

It’s funny how many of those old tired clichés have a grain of truth in them. Every cloud does have a silver lining (and yes, I’ve heard the one about hundreds being struck by lightning each year searching for it). There is power in positive thinking. It’s part of our culture of cynisim that we tend to automatically dismiss such ideas as Pollyanna-ish.

Like most everything else of value, learning to find the perfection of the present moment takes a little practice.

Most of us tend to get stuck in our emotional reactions until we learn how to get a handle on them – to drag out another old cliché, when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s often tough to remember that you’re there to drain the swamp. Unfortunately, until you learn to control your emotional state, it will control you.

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