Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What do you focus on?

“Disaster Preparedness” is the catchphrase of the day in many Pacific Northwest communities.  After the New Yorker article highlighting what a precarious situation we might be in, it’s a good time to decide what information we need to focus on. I propose we put aside the shock factor of the mainstream articles and news and place our attention on things that we can guide based on experiences and actions. As Stephen Covey described in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, each of us has a Circle of Influence we operate under in term of our actions. In other words, a set of thoughts, actions, or beliefs that influence what we can control. Obsessing on the worst case scenario or the elements of a bad event really doesn’t serve us.

When it comes to preparing for the worst such as earthquakes or other perceived disaster scenarios, we need to focus on what we have influence over.  Keeping our attention on what we can improve for the common good is our best interest.

And what’s more, let’s focus on what we can do in the present, as opposed to fretting about future events. As individuals our attention should not be eroded by the ubiquitous negativity of our 24 hours news cycle. Instead, I propose we build resiliency and enhance our focus and productivity like this: 

  • Assemble an emergency kit
  • Contact a relative, and ask them to serve as a remote point of contact in an emergency. 
  • Better yet, take an hour or two secure household items with an eye for things that can fall and break.
And it starts with one step. Taking one bite out of the elephant at a time is good way to look at it. Focus on thoughts and actions that will serve you and those you care about the most. To that extent, let’s focus on minimizing distractions.

Look at your focus as something that you must constantly attend to. Notice how you spend your time when you are focused on the bad news or the errant article about the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Do you become more or less productive in the darkness? Do you tend to see the good or the bad in an emergency situation or forecasted disaster? Maybe you have a steady eye towards the glass half full. And if so, your tendency might be to focus on the positive and prepare. Some of you might be inclined to see the low side of things, before you see a bright light. My point in this: Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

In a time when our focus and attention seem to be bombarded by constant stimuli, avoid passively absorbing the trivial and the negative. Seek out the positive solution and focus on that instead.

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