What you focus on expands

There is a very human tendency to dwell on the past. To rehash, to relive, to regurgitate.

This happens in your head: the downward thought loop as your brain gets trapped in a past experience.

And it happens out loud: the toxic venting to a friend about your employee/co-founder/significant other and the dramatic and sudden escalation of an argument with a partner as you choose to bring up all past examples of wrongdoing (a lovely habit of mine).

Notice what happens to your body and your body, when dwelling on the past.

Drained. Clenched. Rigid. Hopeless.

What you focus on expands.

Your brain can’t tell the difference between present reality and what you are reliving in your imagination. So, if you focus on a problem, you are actually going through it again; cortisol and adrenaline get released again.

The problem gets bigger.

Sure you might want to figure out the roots, to analyse, to review, -but those “why” questions-Why is this happening to me? Why did he do that? Why aren’t I better? Why is this my situation?– ultimately lead to a stifling of energy and intention; to being stuck.

So how do you move forward?

What do you do to live each day anew and truly step into the present moment?

Focus on the solution instead.

Imagine for a moment the calm balm to your soul and mind of thinking about WHAT you can do differently in the future. What can I learn from this? What do I need to do now? What is the solution?

Note the relaxing of the body and the subsequent energy release.

Move from the Why to the What.

Step into the future this weekend.


Some energy-releasing What questions for business and life

Problem Focus “Why?”                                  Solution Focus “What?”

Why did you do that?                    vs            What do you want to do next?

Why isn’t this working?                 vs          What do we need to do to make this

Why didn’t you hit your targets   vs       What do you need to do next time
to hit them?

Why are you not good at this?     vs         What strengths can you develop?

Why is this happening to me?     vs          What do I need to get through this?

Why am I such a failure?               vs            What will get me what I want?

Why did she say that?                 vs              What could have made her say that?

Whose fault was it?                        vs              What is the solution?

Questions courtesy of David Rock and Laura Berman Fortgang

Some reading recommendations for those wanting to focus on solutions and not problems.

Quiet Leadership David Rock
Living your Best Life Laura Berman Fortgang

A poem to end on

Imaginary Conversation You tell me to live each day
As if it were my last. This is the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead- that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first-
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingenue in the east?You grind the cofee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
living surface.

Linda Pastam