There’s a simple trick for creating the life of your dreams: Look where you want to go.
The only catch here is: our brains are not our friends. They’re useful tools, but they’re not our friends.
There are sensible evolutionary reasons for this.
In life-and-death terms, good things (eg delicious berries on a bush) are lower priority than, say, a tiger that’s about to eat our head (generally known as “a bad thing”).
So, we’re tuned: Pay MUCH more attention to bad things. They’re more urgent, they’re more important.
However, now we’re roaming the streets not the savannah, this evolutionary priority isn’t helping so much.
These days, our actual life-and-death risks are much more probabilistic and long term – heart disease, cancer etc. They’re no longer things that jump out of a bush and try to eat us as we’re walking to work.
In fact statistically, surprising events are generally pretty benign – spilling coffee on ourselves, bumping into someone on an escalator, a boss shouting at us at work. Not great, sure, but no longer life threatening.
[obviously if you live in a war zone or an otherwise rough area, you’re in the modern equivalent of tiger jumping territory, so things are a little different for you.]
The real problem is, our brains still treat negative events as if they were ALL life and death.
Which doesn’t help us at all.
Of greater concern is the larger effect of our brains instinctively focusing on the negative.
After all, what are our lives but the sum total of our experiences and memories?
Our lives are simply the sum of everything we pay attention to.
This is particularly obvious in relationships.
We may have a perfectly fine relationship with someone, but if what we’re most focused on is some negative event that happened, or some fear that didn’t – how is that going to colour our feelings towards them?
What’s actually an otherwise decent relationship will seem utterly awful.
Now obviously, I’m not suggesting being myopic. Every relationship has issues and these should be dealt with.
However, if you WANT the relationship to be good, focusing on the positive aspects will create that much more reliably than constantly looking for what’s wrong.
If your partner does something a bit off, assume they mean well. They love you and want to be with you, right? So why hold the picture that they’ve intentionally tried to hurt you? It’s only destructive.
If you get quiet and pay attention, you’ll be able to see this in action.
When you look at someone, what’s the general feeling you’re filled with?
- If they’re mostly negative thoughts, you’re going to feel pretty crappy.
- If they’re mostly positive thoughts, you’re going to feel pretty great when you think about them.
Of course, this goes for everything in our lives.
Think about your job. Your home. Your commute. Your family. Your wardrobe. Your bank balance.
You can instantly feel what your predominant thoughts are.
Is your brain focused on the good or bad aspects?
Look where you want to go.
If you want a boring life, focus your attention on the boring things around you.
If you want a happy life, pay attention to what is already around you that brings you happiness and joy.
If you want a peaceful life, pay attention to what’s peaceful and choose to let the rest of it go.
Our eyes and ears face forward for a reason: Look where you want to go.