I cut roses off my Mother’s Day rose bush this morning. (The picture above might look like a stock photo but these are all my own). I used pruning shears to snip the thorns before bringing them inside. What a contrast. Such a stunning show of the most interesting hue of purple atop the most irksome little prickers. But all I could see as I snipped was the luscious confluence of tender petals that emitted an olfactory explosion.
Ever notice how some people have a real knack for sapping the joy out of a thing. Later, on my walk/run this morning, I passed a fellow jogger. I said, “Isn’t the breeze nice this morning?” His reply? “Yeah, it’s great unless you’re running into it.” The Pricker Focus I think I’ll call it. In contrast, I visited a friend this weekend who has been hit with a second blow of cancer, only months following treatment for the first go round. Her response, “Whaddya gonna do? None of us know if we have three months or three days to live. I’ve got today and that’s what I’m focusing on.” She’s keeping the rose front and center.
After each collaborative session, I check in with my clients privately. When a settlement has been reached on an issue, it’s always interesting to me to see if she or he will focus on the concessions the other made–or on the concessions she or he made. Agreement never emerges without some of each. I’m always hopeful for a client’s ability to move forward and truly be happy when he or she says, “I am so glad they agreed to… (fill in the blank). That was important to me” rather than, “I can’t believe they wouldn’t give me (whatever).” What was conceded is minimized or ignored and I’m always a little sad for that client, knowing that this choice of focus likely permeates other parts of his or her life.
I’m not immune. I’m notorious for seeing the weeds in my flower beds rather than how well what’s supposed to be there is doing. I can go to bed at night oblivious to all my accomplishments, only focused on what didn’t get crossed off my to-do list. So how do we keep the rose front and center, not the prickers? Here’s what I’ve observed from those who do it well:
1. Consciously Choose. Being aware is the first step to changing any pattern. Determine that, anytime you hear your voice complaining, you will stop and ask yourself, “Where’s the good here?” Develop some sort of amulet or talisman to assist until it becomes ingrained. A stone in your pocket, a message that flashes across your computer screen, a tattoo (a little extreme probably but you get the idea!).
2. Enlist help. Declare your intentions to those you trust and interact with. Tell them, “I’d really like to work on achieving positivity in my focus. If you hear me being negative, I’d appreciate it if you’d remind me of my commitment.” Thank them when they do remind you.
3. Compartmentalize. Look, there ARE thorns on the rose bush. If you have cancer or currently processing a divorce or dealing with the death of your spouse, there are times when acknowledging the pain and sadness is not only appropriate but healthy. But choose your time to give those emotions space. Don’t just put on rose colored glasses and a happy face at all times and ignore the pain. But as you move through the day, at times you have not consciously chosen for processing those emotions, return to the conscious choice of finding and focusing on the good. It is there for the picking.
4. Share your secret for finding focus. What’s helped you feel the wind at your back? Making connection is one way positive emotions are nurtured. Share your thoughts below!
Wishing you wisdom,
We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life, or you can focus on what’s right. Marianne Williamson