Your attention is one of the most valuable things you possess, which is why everyone wants to steal it from you! First, you must protect it, and then you must point it in the right direction. We have so little control over our lives. Yet you can control your paying attention to what you want to pay attention to. My belief is that this is the difference that makes the difference when it comes to coping with difficult times.
Lately, things seem to be overwhelming. Why is it that some people break and others thrive? When noticing peoples’ responses to what is going on, my conclusion is that one of the valuable success factors is more than ever: not what happens around you is essential; it’s how you choose to let it affect you. This stance is closely related to your way of looking at the world around you. In this news stream that constantly falls upon us, your capability to pay attention to what is most important to you is key.
Determine what you choose to see
One way to cope with exhausting news and energy-sapping information overflow is to keep your eye on your chosen excerpt of the world. A symbolic way to do this is to use a ‘finder’, originally created by Corita Kent. Sister Mary Corita Kent was a major 20th century American artist and a charismatic art teacher at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles. She would help her students to ‘see for the sake of seeing’ and discover new things you would otherwise have missed or not noticed. To practice this, she created a ‘finder’ – basically a rectangle cut out of a piece of paper – the use of which she described in her book ‘Learning by heart’: “[The finder] is a device, which does the same things as the camera lens or viewfinder. It helps us take things out of context, allows us to see for the sake of seeing, and enhances our quick-looking and decision-making skills.” In the figurative sense, such a finder might help us focus on specific clipping and pay attention to the one area that feels worth looking at. The part of reality that seems inspiring, that might delight us or even evoke nourishing emotions.
“Sometimes we can take the whole of the world in, and sometimes we need a small peace to take in.” Corita Kent
DISCONNECT FROM THE WORLD TO CONNECT WITH YOURSELF
Our daily life is constantly about connection – click by click. How about some conscious disconnection from time to time? In order to unwind and gain new forces, we must retreat from the world long enough to focus on what we really want to notice. By focusing on a specific cut-out and staying in it, we could give ourselves a break from this constant ‘too much of everything’. This might help you shape your day, day by day, and thus keep going or even thriving when things are being difficult. A simple yet promising experiment – the proof of the pudding is in the eating!