Where Do I Place My Attention?

I had a unique experience today which I believe will serve me well in my journey to become a more conscious parent.  Actually, I imagine it will help me in ALL my relationships, even the one with myself.  I was looking back over some notes I took at a workshop where the presenter talked about how our entire perspective can shift based on where we choose to place our attention.  You know the drill, do we see the glass as half full or half empty?  Depends on where we place our attention, right? 

Well I decided to do my own experiment as I was sitting in my easy chair in the living room reading through my notes.  I looked around the room and placed my attention on everything I could see that was “wrong” with the room.  All the things that I didn’t like about it.  And here’s what I noticed:  This room is too cluttered.  Look at all the stuff on those shelves!  Look at all the shoes piled in the corner; there must be 36 pairs of shoes in there!  The glass doors to the sunroom are hand smudged; I can see fingerprints from here.  And there’s a hole in the sunroom window screen.  There’s the baskets I bought just sitting on the floor.  I’ve never taken the time to rearrange the shelves and put them on there.  There’s the space on the shelf where the TV used to be; and there’s a hole in the wall where the back of the TV went and it’s patched with posterboard.  Jeez!  The couch slipcover is falling off.  I’ve never gotten around to getting new curtains and decorative pillows since the room was painted.   The new rugs already have dog hairs all over them.   And what kind of centerpiece is that for the mantel?:   a McDonald’s hamburger and french fries?! 
(Sidenote:  The kids and I saw a youtube video where someone saved a McDonald’s Happy Meal for 4 years and it didn’t spoil, rot, or get moldy!  So we bought one too.  Our Happy Meal will celebrate its first birthday next month and although it has gotten hard, it pretty much looks the same as it did about a year ago. It’s aging better than I am and the experiment occupies a place of honor on our fireplace mantel where it’s a real conversation starter… but that’s another story…)

Want to know how I was feeling after taking this visual inventory?  I was bummed!  I wanted to throw everything out and start from scratch.   I felt yucky sitting in my easy chair in that horrible room. 

Okay…Phase 2 of the experiment:  I closed my eyes and took 3 deep breaths.  I still felt yucky.  I took 7 more breaths.  And then I opened my eyes and I placed my attention on everything I liked about the room.  I love those shelves.  There’s plenty of room for books and more books.  And look at all those shoes!  My kids are so blessed to have so many to choose from:  basketball shoes, baseball cleats, tennis shoes, sandals, slip-ons, crocs.  How much of the world goes barefoot?  And here my kids have a shoe for everything they do, including doing nothing!  Those wicker baskets are going to look fabulous when I get those shelves rearranged.  And I bet if I put a basket right there on that shelf, it will hide the hole in the wall  where the TV was.  Isn’t it nice not to have a TV in the living room anymore?  Now when we’re together in the living room, we’re really together.   I love the new light color on the walls.  It has really brightened up the room.  Just look at all that light that comes in from the sunroom windows.  I can see through the wall of windows out into the trees.  It’s so green and alive!  And the new sisal rugs, they’ve really added natural texture to the room.  I actually like how the 16-year-old sofa was transformed by a slipcover when it just wasn’t in the budget to buy a new couch.  Look at that unique centerpiece!  I bet no one else has that on their mantel… if anyone gets hungry, there’s a burger and fries within easy reach!

I had to smile after this new inventory.  I loved my room!  It was bright and cozy and well…lived in.  The shift inside me was amazing.  Absolutely nothing about my external environment had changed, but now I really enjoyed and appreciated my room and all its reminders of family around me.

What if I applied this to my parenting?  What if I chose to place my attention on what I love and appreciate about my children?   What if I actively noticed and what if I expressed it to them?  What if I noticed all the things I love and appreciate about my spouse?  My parents?  My colleagues?  The man who carefully arranges my Subway sub?  The cashier who scans my groceries?  What if I noticed what I love and appreciate about myself?  How might my world change?

That’s my assignment for the coming weeks.  Anyone want to join me?