One day while sitting at a coffee shop I overheard a conversation between two women who were sitting directly in front of me. No, I was not eavesdropping, they just happened to be talking in a rather loud voice, and the coffee shop was small so the tables were pushed rather close together. I heard one of the women say “Every time I make a little bit of money, something bad happens and I end up having to spend it right away. I just don’t know what to do anymore! I just can’t seem to be able to save any money. Just the other day we got our yearly bonus at work, and not 2 days later my car broke down and we had to use practically every penny of it on the repairs, which wasn’t much to begin with.”
I zoned out after that. You see, a while ago I learned that engaging in conversations of a negative nature – complaining, whining, or just talking about everything that’s wrong with the world – has the potential to perpetuate the very situation we’re complaining about by the mere act of giving our attention to them, especially when there is nothing we can do about them.
I found this to be true in my life; I found that the more I complained about something, the more accentuated that something became, and the more of it I experienced! For instance, I had a habit of dreading traffic. I often told people, “I can’t stand driving, and I especially hate sitting in traffic.” But that wasn’t entirely true. I’ve always found driving to be enjoyable, but I often got tense and anxious the moment I saw red tail lights on the road, especially if I was on my way to work or to an appointment.
The problem was that whenever I was on the road I often found myself stuck in traffic, and so slowly but surely the association became lodged in my subconscious: driving = stuck on traffic = ugh! I often complained to people at work about how bad traffic was in the morning. If I was meeting up with friends or colleagues I complained to them about how bad traffic was on my way there. This habit became so engrained in me that my first thought when getting in the car usually was, “I hope there is no traffic.” So what do you think I often encountered? You guessed it! Traffic, and plenty of it!
So when I learned that giving my attention to something tends to accentuate it in my experience, I decided to test it out. I made it a point to not give my attention to this dreaded traffic, and focus instead on something else, something pleasant. I made it a point to change my thought when getting in the car to something other than traffic. For instance, I would take a deep breath and think, “What a gorgeous day today is!” Or, “I’ve never seen the sky so blue!” or anything else that was positive or uplifting. The thought I chose had to be non-traffic related, because if the thought was related to traffic in any way, my focus would still be on traffic! So that would not work. I also decided that driving was the perfect time to listen to some recorded self-improvement seminars or some uplifting or relaxing music.
Let me tell you. It wasn’t long before I started seeing a marked difference in my driving experience. Slowly I started noticing that I found much less traffic in my commute to wherever I was going, at whatever time of the day. And even when there was traffic, it seemed to flow faster in whichever lanes I chose.
I then conducted an experiment to see if the opposite was also true; meaning that if I focused on something that I did want to see manifested in my life, would I experience more of it? To my amazement, my experiment brought about similar results. This was to me a clear indicator that the notion that whatever we focus on we’ll tend to see more of was completely accurate.
Since then I made it a point not to give my precious attention to anything I did not want to see manifested in my experience, and focus instead on those things that I did want to see more of; and I’ve had wonderful results.
That day that I was sitting at the coffee shop and overheard that woman complaining about her money situations, my mind suddenly took me back to when I learned about this principle. She seemed upset and worried, which I understood completely. I had no reason to believe that things weren’t as she described them, so her feelings about her situation were perfectly reasonable. But it occurred to me that if she were to shift her focus or take on a new perspective on her situation, she would feel much better about it.
You may be wondering, “But what is the use of feeling better about it, if the situation itself remains the same? Aren’t you just lying to yourself or being unrealistic?” But I would ask you these questions: “What is the use of complaining about it, if the situation itself remains the same? Don’t you feel worse rattling on about how bad your situation is? If there is something you can do about the situation, do it and make it a point to expect the best outcome. But if there is nothing you can do about it, wouldn’t you rather spare yourself this unnecessary added stress and worry?”
It’s something to think about isn’t it? A simple shift in perspective or refocusing of your attention can turn your attitude 180 degrees and do wonders for you, your health, your beliefs, and your expectations, which ultimately shape your reality.
If I were standing in this woman’s shoes, knowing what I know today I would shift my attention and alter my story by saying this instead:
“I am so grateful that my needs are so anticipated, that the money I will need for whatever situation that comes up is provided to me in advance. I don’t even have to worry about “what ifs” because I have received an abundance of evidence that my needs will always be provided for. I have plenty of examples to support this truth; for instance, my car broke down just the other day and it required a lot of major repairs, but you know what? Not 2 days prior to that, almost the exact amount of money I was going to need was provided to me via my bonus at work and I did not have to spend a single dime out of pocket. How wonderful is that!”
Don’t you feel better about this woman’s situation just by reading that? Don’t you hear and feel the attitude of gratitude in those words? Wouldn’t you rather live your life in a state of gratitude, trust and reliance that everything will turn out all right?
I will leave you with a quote that my wife shared with me which encompasses this message perfectly:
If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
~ Mary Engelbreit
Do you have any thoughts on this that you would like to share with me? Leave me a comment below.
I’d love to hear from you!