“Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.” ~Māori Proverb
There was a stretch of lawn that ran alongside our gravel driveway on the farm. It’s here I learned to ride a bike. My father supported me and got me to pedal and my mother was several yards ahead of me encouraging me. ‘Don’t look down. Look at me,’ my mother encouraged. And when I finally stopped worrying about falling over and focused on my mother, where I was heading to, I learned to ride a bike.
I remember when I first heard someone say that we need to stop calling things problems and start calling them challenges. Ha! I thought, as if changing the word will change the reality of the situation. If I don’t have money to pay the electric bill, that’s a problem. Calling it a ‘challenge’ isn’t going to get the bills paid. I’ve since learned I was wrong.
Wherever I focus my thoughts, that’s where I end up. Focusing on the problem, the fact that I didn’t have the money to pay my bills, created a useless vortex spiraling downward. When I shift my focus to finding ways to get my bills paid, it creates a mental shift toward the solution and away from the problem. It’s like learning to ride a bike: I need to focus on where I wish to go, not be afraid of where I am. I look ahead to where I am going. If I focus on my feet I won’t see what’s ahead.
Focusing on the solution doesn’t change facts, but it can alter my mental ability to work with those facts. A problem is the tree in the path of my bike. Focusing on the problem only, I am going to hit the tree. Shifting focus to a solution is finding a way to avoid the tree.
It’s not easy to make the shift in perspective. There’s a lot of negativity in the world that focuses on darkness and shadows. News media might throw in a ‘feel good’ story into their reports once in a while, but it’s blood and guts that more often make the cut and ‘entertain’. I have learned that if I continually say how hard something will be to accomplish, or how much trouble it will be, or how many ways I can fail at it, I won’t even take the first step toward the solution. I have to focus on success, on resolving the challenge if I have any hope of getting off the ground.
Look toward the sun. See the realm of possibilities. Focus on the positive. Doing this might not change the facts of a situation, but they will change my mental outlook toward a solution and there’s a greater likelihood that I will take the first step.
Where do you want to go in life?