The power of deep focus
Most people strive for satisfaction in some way in their lives. It can be professional success, sporting success, social success etc. We can also achieve satisfaction through living out values important to us like joy, a loving family and so on. Regardless of what kind of satisfaction we are striving for, it always starts as a goal. We can also look at it from a different perspective. We strive for our goals because achieving them evokes a feeling of satisfaction or meaningfulness. Ideally, all of our actions are chosen and implemented in order to maximize output from input so that in the end our goal is achieved, or at least we are closer to it. Without doing anything for our future, we would not make progress in anything. If we put it into an extreme, we would not be even alive for more than a few minutes after birth, because we would not act to scream for food, when we need to eat.
Overall, it is important that we work and fight for our goals, in order to achieve some kind of satisfaction. The problem though often occurs when it comes to questioning how we strive for our goals. Because the how affects whether we reach our goals as well as whether we enjoy the journey. Ask yourself how effective you are and how satisfied you feel on your journey on a scale 1 to 10. If you are not happy with one of those numbers, keep reading. The two following benefits of deepening your focus on present can help you to raise your score.
Boosting Your Effectivity
Sometimes we get sidetracked on the way to reaching our goals by not paying enough attention to something more important than the goals themselves – ourselves. Ourselves here and now. I’m talking about situations where in hopes of satisfaction or achievement in the future, we cease to realize what exists right now. We are not fully aware of our momentary mental state, therefore we lack the ability to adjust it in order to be more efficient in life. This present moment is one of the few certainties that we have and the only moment we have the ability to influence.
If we do not sufficiently understand our essence in the present here and now, we make it more difficult to effectively react to the experience, to overcome obstacles, and maximize effort to achieve our goals. Unless we are fully engaged in the present, we do not work with 100% interest and 100% awareness.
The present is the basis for achieving in the future, since we can only get to the future through our action in the present. The present is where our accountability should take place. Sure, learn from the past, be inspired by the future but act in the present. Ask yourself to make fully conscious decisions in the present moment. All our power, all our potential lies right here, right now. How can we know whether we use this potential?
Productive thoughts lead to action.
By knowing that productive thoughts and productive actions are what matters in the present moment and by acknowledging that we have the capacity for both. How do we recognize productive thoughts? Productive thoughts lead to productive action. They deal with questions such as “why?”, “when?”, “how?”. These thoughts solve problems to make actions more efficient for a specific situation. On the contrary, thoughts like “what If”, “This is bad”, “This is their fault”, etc. are, in most cases, not productive thoughts, because they do not lead to action beneficial to a situation. In fact, they prevent us from such action, because they consume most of our energy to act.
Now we know that the productive thoughts and action allow us to open the door towards our potential. Let me describe how to actually open the door through the following steps.
How to boost our Effectivity?
- Take control over your attention in each moment and keep directing it to what really matters – productive thoughts and actions in the present. This is a crucial step.
- Whenever a thought grasps your attention, start questioning whether it is a productive thought or not. If you have a productive thought, keep it and work with it. If you find a useless thought, ignore it and redirect your attention towards another thought or action that you are doing right now.
- Keep a balance. Do not overthink over your thoughts. Learning the process of questioning our thoughts might lead to overthinking over every single thought that comes to our mind. Try to be efficient and highly decisive in the process of questioning which thoughts are productive and which are not. Do not waste time. Simply ask, is it a productive thought? Does it help me? Yes. No. Keep it or move on. That is it.
- If you find yourself full of non-productive thoughts, direct your attention towards your action. By continuously directing your attention towards the current action, the non-productive thoughts will start losing a power over you.
- The thoughts will be coming back and asking for your attention. But as a kid demanding your attention by screaming, the non-productive strengthen their voice anytime you react on them. However, by ignoring them and refocusing on action, they start getting quieter. Keep redirecting your attention towards the action every single time you realize that the non-productive thoughts demand your attention.
To be completely honest with you, your mind is almost continuously full of useless trash. Mine too. Negative self-talk, criticism, judgements, thoughts related to past experience that lead you nowhere, doubts about the future and overthinking are all elements of thought that pull you away from clear action supported by full attention. The more attention we put into our actions, the more precisely we will work.
By observing our thoughts, we will eventually realize how much content our mind is continuously producing. It is around 60 thousand thoughts a day.. By questioning them, we will see that most of the thoughts are nothing more than useless stuff that we will want to get rid of. Questioning our thoughts is an important process, in order to stop being distracted by them, or worse, being led by them. Leave all thoughts that are anything but beneficial for you and boost your effectivity by intentional focus on what matters in the present moment. Productive thoughts and action in the present moment.
Improve quality of your experience - be happy without a reason
Success and the ability to achieve goals is one side of the coin benefitting from having full focus in the present. The other side is the overall feeling of happiness and satisfaction throughout our life.
In the article “Free will: the two feasible ways to to control over your attitude” we explained that different people react to problematic situations with a different emotional intensity. In other words, two people experiencing same situation will react differently due to them having different perspectives. Therefore, we concluded that one of the factors defining the quality of our experience lies in our attitude. There are two different matters to which we can apply our attitude to. External situations and our internal states (thoughts, emotions). While the previous article focused on attitude towards external situations, here, we will focus on the attitude towards our thoughts and emotions.
First of all, we need to discuss and acknowledge these principles:
- Even though, our thoughts and emotions relate to the past or future, they occur only in the present moment. With this notion we open a new possibility to deal with them.
- In most cases, thought processes open up first in order to interpret a situation. Emotional response follows.
- In most cases, how we feel is a response to our thought processes. Not to the situation itself. The situation in neutral until we give it meaning.
Life can be defined as an ability of an organism to be able to react to what is happening right here right now in the environment. Basically anytime we react to the environment, we react by applying our thought processes and emotions. These reactions are always happening in the present moment, but they always relate to something that either has happened or is about to happen. In other words, we are not happy while something is happening. We become happy after we have positively interpreted a situation. We become happy after we have heard a good news about something that matters to us. Similarly, we can get nervous by thinking of future uncertainty. By processing events from the past or future, we usually lose the base. By continuously reacting to something from the past or future, we lose a contact with the present moment and our momentary state – how we are right now right here. Our momentary well-being becomes a result of our thought processes (by our interpretation of a situation).
It is the tendency to think, the tendency to understand, the tendency to interpret and label everything in the world that pulls us from living, experiencing, and feeling freely and deeply.
A true state of happiness is the one without a reason.
Do you remember moments when nothing special was happening, yet you were feeling happy? Happy without a specific reason? You had a feeling that everything is as it should be. Your mind was calm and you had a space to experience the world just as it was. No judgement.Only acceptance of the present moment.
We have become conditioned to develop our emotions based on the interpretation (our thoughts processes). Throughout our lives, we build this chain (phenomena – interpretation – emotion), where happiness or sadness lie at its end. That puts us into a trap of dependency on our thought processes, because we tend to react on automatic interpretations of things as good or bad. This labeling is the cause for developing our emotional response. It directs our emotions to be either positive or negative based on the interpretation, not based on our will. Through this habit, we forbid ourselves to be happy without a reason.
Cut out the middle part of the chain.
By cutting the chain I mean ignoring our thought processes. As mentioned earlier, the chain consists of phenomena, interpretation and emotions. By giving up on thought processes, we give up on interpretation. By giving up on interpretation, we connect emotions to the present moment. It is important to notice that interpretation often comes automatically regardless our will. Thoughts come whether we want to or not. That is why the first part of the article about the awareness is crucial to understand and apply. Once we learn this process of ignoring the middle part of the chain, emotions will no longer be a direct result of our interpretation. What comes through instead is a purer experience of the present moment without excessive and polarized emotions developed by our interpretations. That is when the true happiness without a reason comes to the place.
How to reach the pure happiness?
Start paying attention to senses other than vision whenever you can. Smell, touch, taste, hearing. Stop for a moment and use these senses. Stop for few minutes every day and experience through these senses. Do not evaluate, just feel and explore each element that we focus on. Feel what it is like to be present. Direct your attention and keep it on one thing for a while. Focus on details. Can you feel your heartbeat or blood flow right now? What muscles do you use while walking?
Because we use vision most often, let’s use it for another exercise – intentionally keep redirecting your vision from one object to another every second for few moments. Do you recognize when you are daydreaming, you do not even know what you are looking at? Try the opposite. Direct your full attention to the objects you are looking at. And do not forget to keep moving your gaze. After a while, you will recognize how more connected you are to what actually exists rather than to your thought processes.
Try not to understand everything that is happening, just experience it. Live it.
By applying and reaching the pure experience, your emotions will become deeper and more consistent. You will feel more alive with each moment. Ideally, there will be no more moments when you feel that nothing happens in your life, because you will start being aware of so much more, on much deeper level. Apply these steps towards pure happiness whenever you think there is nothing happening in your life. Whenever you start feeling bored. Whenever you find yourself unsatisfied with certain situations. Whenever you find that you do not feel happy, excited or alive as you think you should.
Use them when things get bad, and realize that it is your attention that focus on the negative 1% whilst overseeing the 99%. By connecting to the present moment, it gets much harder for your mind to stay stuck with the interpretation and labeling of things either as good or bad. In fact, you will become aware of what is actually going on. You will start feeling your life on a deeper level, where there is no space for intensive, extreme emotions. This is the way towards true, consistent happiness without a reason.