Monday, October 26, 2009
Power of FOCUS
Today I am thinking about the power of focus.
Lots of stuff happens every day - some good, some not so good, some bizarre, some mundane. I decide which of those things I will pay the most attention to. I am in control of my own mental focus.
I believe I have the power to be in charge of my own mood and attitude by deliberately choosing to focus on things I am grateful for, things I am excited about, things that make me smile INSTEAD of staying stuck in dwelling on all that is not perfect in my life. There is PLENTY that is not perfect in my world right now. If I chose to focus on those things I could work myself into a pretty potent pity party. (say that five times fast!) Instead, I am working hard to keep putting my attention on the many things I have that are fantastic. There are a lot of those things in my world as well. It's up to me to decide which ones will get the bulk of my attention.
Recently I had an opportunity to go on a week long cruise with my husband and some other family members to Mexico. We took a Holland America ship to Mazatlan, Porta Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. It was supposed to be a fabulous vacation in the sun, seeing interesting places and having the time of our lives.
Except I got sick. By the second day on ship I was coughing like crazy and felt kinda puny. So I went to the medical center to get some cough medicine. They took my temperature, did a throat culture and diagnosed me with flu A. Which means I was put into quarantine to protect the other passengers from my germs. I DID have fun in Mazatlan. But I did NOT get to go see Porta Vallarta or Cabo. Not only did I not get to see those ports of call, I wasn't even allowed out of my room. Not fun.
The first day I was very understanding about it. There are lots of little old people on cruise ships. I sure did not want to get anyone else sick. I thought with bed rest, pushing fluids and a course of Tamiflu I'd beat it pretty quick. However, my positive attitude about it pretty much went flying out the window by the third day of isolation. I was ready to go postal.
The time I was down was pretty grim. Not only did I feel terrible, I hated missing out on the only vacation I am likely to get this year. Also, I am by nature a pretty social person. Being in solitary confinement all that time was hard to take. However, when I finally DID get to get out of my room (on our way back home) I had an amazing day. Dolphins surrounded the ship by the hundreds, jumping out of the water right up next to the boat and all across the sea. After that we went through a pod of whales. Over and over again they came up to the surface within just a few feet of where I was standing on the deck. They were truly awesome to watch. I saw amazing islands, I enjoyed some good meals. Besides all that, I felt very grateful to simply be able to BREATHE without coughing and to have the freedom to walk around again.
When I think of that trip I could define it as a miserable experience that I spent locked up most of the time. Or I can think of that trip as the vacation I took when I got to commune with dolphins and whales. The choice is up to me.
For me, the most positive way for me to define that cruise to Mexico is to clearly remember BOTH parts of it. Rather than having to view my life experiences in terms of either/or good/bad dichotomy, I prefer to embrace both/and. This vacation was the trip when I got sick AND the trip that I saw dolphins and whales.
I do not want to put on blinders to my experience of being ill. It was a very difficult, painful, disappointing thing to have happen. Yet it also was a reminder to me about how very fortunate I am to have generally good health. There was a point that every free breath I took without going into spasms of coughing truly felt like a precious gift from God. (I was really sick!) It was interesting to watch how long it took for me to start taking breathing for granted again. It wasn't very long. I am trying to HOLD ON to that feeling of gratitude for things as basic as my breath. Remembering my period of illness gets me closer to feeling a deep appreciation for it.
I give meaning to what happens to me on a daily basis. I can whine about the things that do not meet my expectations. Or I can look for the blessings and lessons that are in ALL things that occur, even the painful ones.
I will definitely have pain. Whether I allow that pain to make me miserable is up to me. I really do believe that there are blessings in ALL my experiences. Some float right up to the surface, like those breaching whales and leaping dolphins. Others are harder to identify. But if I look deep, they are always there.