Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Power of Positive Attention



It's a Saturday morning, so let's have coffee while we chat.

This week I have been teaching people to pay attention to what they want, what they value, what works. It's what I do most weeks. I condition people to turn their attention to what is working for them, not what is broken, missing or undesirable.

This isn't about denying reality and it's not about playing 'Suzy Sunshine' and living in a bubble. It's about noticing what you can build and building it. It's about saying: "Yes, we have a problem here. And what will be true after we solve it? How do we imagine a future beyond the problem?" This is the best way to encourage your vast super-computing powers (your unconscious mind/brain does have super-computing powers, even if your conscious mind has trouble believing that) to get to work on solving the problem so you can get to the future you imagine on the other side.

There are side affects to practicing positive attention.

You might experience better relationships. These often happen after you stop paying attention to what you don't like, don't value and don't handle well and start paying attention to what you like and respect in other people. As social creatures, people respond to what we send them. When we send them positive attention (attention to what we want in our future), they send it back.

You might experience curiosity. When you practice positive attention, you find that there are lots of details that catch at the edges of your perception and make you want to know more. Everything becomes a puzzle you can put together with just a little energy, knowledge and imagination. There's always a curve on the path that makes you wonder what good thing is just out of sight.

You might become more productive. There have been times when you have been stopped by a problem you didn't know how to solve. There have been times when you slowed down because you felt crummy about what you were doing or how you had to do it. But I bet you can't remember ever being stuck because you were practicing positive attention. When you look for more of what you want, you are motivated to find it or to make it happen. You can't solve every problem immediately, but you can always find a way to do something productive.

Take a moment and ask yourself: what would change if I spent more time thinking in specific terms about what I will see, hear and feel when I have more of what I want? The search for sensory specific information always triggers some realism: after all, you are working to compile a realistic version of the future.  Instead of vaguely wild ideas with high costs, you generate specifics that you can work on today to make tomorrow better.

Don't trust me. Test me. Stop yourself three times today and ask: "In this moment, what do I value? What do I trust? What do I want next?" Then observe the results. That's how you practice positive attention.


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