I have always been enamoured with spotlights—those strong beams of lights that illuminate a small area of the stage.
The splendour of a spotlight lies in its ability to highlight a single person, object or a group on stage while keeping the rest more or less dark and therefore out of focus.
Each of us has a built-in spotlight in our conscious minds. It is called attention. The trouble is we almost always train our spotlight on what's wrong in our life, while keeping everything that's OK [not wrong] “in the dark”.
We inherit this deep-rooted problem mindset from our problem-oriented society. Everywhere you look, the spotlight is on all that is not right—the newspapers are predominantly filled with stories on inflation, corruption, crime and terrorism; there are serious discussions on prime-time television about the troubled conditions in various parts of the world.
On a personal level too, we are preoccupied with those aspects of our life that are not going well for us at the moment. Students are worried about their academics.
Young men and women are worried about their careers, their relationships, or their finances. And older people are bothered about their health.
There's one thing common though: whatever your problem area, it is a good bet that your attention is on the ‘gravest’ problem you are currently facing.
It is also a good bet that if a bigger or graver problem surfaces, you will turn your attention to it. So what happened to the ‘grave’ problem you were struggling with earlier?
You might think that giving our problems all the attention is natural…how else would we solve them? But no problem has ever been solved by giving it all the attention.
What works is to understand the problem and then turn your attention away from it so that you can create space in your mind [and in your life] to receive the solution.
There are so many things that are going well for you. How about turning your mental spotlight on those happy occurrences or joyful events?
Let's take an example. Let's say you are feeling troubled with chronic diabetes. You must stop dwelling on it or discussing it with everyone. By all means, give it the attention it deserves—but stop at that.
Visit your doctor, take that dose of medicine on time, exercise and do whatever you can…Then, wait for the healing to take place. After that, if diabetes calls for any more of your attention, don't entertain it.
Instead, aim your spotlight at your heart, kidneys, bones and other body parts that are healthy and kicking.
Problems will call for your attention from time to time. The trick is to know when to turn the spotlight away from them—and onto something good. As they say, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” There is merit in the old adage, after all.
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