For a more positive work experience, direct your focus

focus marbles

[Part of a series on learning to love your life at work.]

Imagine that the sum total of what you focus on in your life can be boiled down to ten marbles. Each of these marbles can be either black or clear (or whatever colors you prefer). The black marbles represent objects of focus that can be perceived as negative, and the clear ones represent the positive.

Which marbles you focus on, and in what ratio, shapes how you see the world. If your focus is consumed primarily by the black marbles, you’ll see a world filled with negative thoughts, events, people, experiences, and trends.

On the other hand, if you focus primarily on the clear marbles, your world will be filled with more of the positive.

Each time you shift your focus to include a clear marble, a black one drops out of view, and vice versa.

This, in a much more complex and interrelated way, is how your view of the world actually works. The more you focus on the positive, the more positive you see, and the less room there is for the negative. The more you focus on the negative, the less you’ll see the positive.

Use your focus to sculpt your work experience

What you focus on shapes how you see the world. How you see the world shapes what you experience (and what you experience, in turn, shapes both what you focus on and how you see the world).

You can use this idea to start sculpting how you experience your work (and your life in general). You can start with getting in the habit of answering this simple question:

What’s good here?

What can you notice that is good? What is fun? Who do you enjoy? What are you grateful for? What experiences feel good?

Don’t just look for the home run goodness (like doing work you love, or the big raise you just got). Look for the small things too. That might include things like:

  • The satisfaction of finishing a project.
  • An enjoyable conversation with a co-worker.
  • The feel of the sun as it streams in through the window on your face.
  • Any compliments or positive feedback.
  • The feeling of collaborating with a good team of people.
  • The funny banter in a meeting.

Remember, your goal is to fill as much of your view as possible with the positive focus marbles.

Addition by subtraction

It’s not just consciously increasing the amount of positive focus, though. It’s also consciously letting go of any negative focus. Removing the negative from your focus not only reduces the amount of negativity taking up your view, it also makes more room for the positive.

An easy example of this is habitual complaining. When you make a habit of complaining, what you’re really doing is reinforcing a negative focus. “I don’t like this. Why can’t they that?”

And the more of that you reinforce, the more you have a tendency to see. It’s a vicious cycle.

Try this: As always, I encourage you to take this idea and do an experiment with it to see for yourself if the idea has merit. There are actually two experiments here to try.

Focus on the positive

First, make a list of all the things you can think of that are positive during your day. This is just to get you started and to prime the pump for your brain to shift into noticing-the-positive gear.

Then, for the next week, experiment with noticing as much of what’s positive as you can. Put a sticky note on your wall to remind you. Set a notification on your phone. You might even bring a co-worker into your experiment and have a daily discussion about the positive each of you have noticed.

The longer you do this, the more your mind will start to automatically notice the positive, so if you feel inclined to continue after that week, keep on going!

Reduce the negative focus

This one is simple. Stop complaining. Try it for one week. As you do, do your best to minimize your exposure to other people’s complaining as well.

If you want to go whole hog with it, you can try the 21 Day Complaint Free Challenge.

Between the two of these experiments, my guess is you will notice a shift start to occur.

The benefit of this approach comes in two ways. The first is the immediate impact of shifting your focus. And the second is the long-term impact of training your mind both to notice more of the positive and to dwell less on the negative.

The more positive you see, the more positive you’re likely to notice. And the more positive you notice, the more positive your experience.

It’s a virtuous cycle.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

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