What we focus on expands. So when we focus on the goodness, we find more of the goodness. That’s the deal, that’s the truth, that’s how our brains are wired. And we all want more goodness! Now, what could this look link in real life? Let the following 3 things inspire you:
Goodness . . . In part inspired by seven year old Camden
Every time we get into the car to head out on a trip, whether just to get gas or to go on an adventure, my youngest child, Camden, waits for a pause in the commotion and says, “Mama, Papa, today I am going to focus on the goodness.”
This is not a saying that anyone else in his family uses or that he has picked up, it is his interpretation of parenting from two adults who recognize that value of intention and focus. And every time he says it, I too am reminded that we can pause at any time and shift our perspective.
Goodness . . . In part inspired by testing techniques
I became an SAT tutor out of college. I never hired an SAT tutor myself, but learned that in order to do a great job on the SAT it is best to study the SAT. It is a unique test, and tutoring how they will be tested really does have a positive impact on students’ scores. So I studied how to take the SAT and taught that to high school juniors and seniors. The part of the test that was not my strongest was always the Reading Comprehension section.
This frustrated me, I loved reading. I love all the nuances of words and story, the layers, the beauty. And none of that is helpful for the SAT.
What is the recommended way to do the Reading Comprehension section? To simply look for the answers to the questions. When students are given 5-10 paragraphs to read, a good SAT tutor will recommend that you do not start with reading it. No, first you train your brain on what you are looking for . . . the answers.
So the first section you read are the questions, one at a time. Read the first question, set that focus in your brain and then skim the reading until you find your answer. Then you focus on the second question and so on. Note what you are looking for, and then focus until you find it.
Do not glory in the writing, do not get lost in the language. Focus.
Goodness . . . In part inspired by your Reticular Activating System
Over the past decade I have really seen the power of what scientists call our Reticular Activating System. These are three fancy words that explain how we most often see what we are looking for. We taught our children this in the car one day. Someone was complaining about something, so I gave them both 2 minutes on the timer, while we were driving, to silently count all the red things that they saw.
As we drove they were focused, fingers out in front noting each red thing they saw on their side of the car. At the end of the two minutes Camden had found 10 red things, Colton had found 16 red things, and then I let them in on my secret. I had been counting too, but I had been looking for green things. And I had seen over 40!
I then asked them to name some of the green things. Their little brains would not let them, they had been focused on the red things and that is what they wanted to tell me about.
Here was the lesson for my children. What you see is what you are looking for. If you are in a funk and you are mad at your brother, the things that you will notice about him are the red things, all the not great things. But when you shift your mind to think about the good things about your brother, they are also there, perhaps more abundantly.
And herein lies Camden’s statement at the beginning of each car ride. What will he focus on? The goodness. And what will he find? The goodness.
As I write this here at the beginning of the fall season (changing leaves! cooler temps! comfort foods!), there will be so much goodness around you, and plenty of not good as well. What will you focus on? Look for the goodness. You get to find it. And then I hope you will share it with one another, with your people, and with the world.