The Power of Focus

"For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root."  -Thoreau

Said another way, most people major in minor things, rooting themselves into an endless uphill battle, struggling to make headway through the leaves. I've personally been there, constantly blaming others, or trying to find the magical breakthrough I needed to finally succeed and be happy. And while I would get it for a while, a small reprieve from the constant fight, it would never last. You see, progress towards a goal equals happiness. Unfortunately, the illusion of progress equals the delusion of happiness.

Today's reading (Stephen R Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) reminded me of my former delusions. My quick story: I blamed my upbringing for my many failings I had in life: abusive relationships, nearly failing out of college, unsuccessful careers, even my high levels of OCD. For almost a decade, I felt repeated progress as I hacked away at the leaves one by one, but felt overwhelmed as they continued to multiply. and failed spectacularly to even see the root of my problem. 

I believe it was Einstein that said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." What I had failed to do is shift my consciousness, or focus, away from blame. Who could blame me? An infant has very little choice.  How could parents love me when they treated me like a burden? Who would ever use a child as a weapon against an ex husband/wife? (I could list my endless pity party forever, but you get the idea) It took me nearly a decade and a year in therapy to realize what was actually to blame. The biggest moment in my life was when I asked myself one question. One question that no one had been asking me. One question that changed my whole life, and finally elevated me to a new level of consciousness.

'What am I focusing on?' Said another way, 'Is what I'm currently focusing on getting me towards my goal? Or is it only minor?' 'Is my focus on a leaf? Or the root?' The day I chose to ask the question, I realized I was choosing to focus on leaves that sprouted from blame. That blame had kept me rooted at the bottom of the hill. I rooted myself  there by choosing to focus on only the negative leaves of my past. But in asking that question,  I found my root. I shifted my focus from blame to gratitude. In choosing gratitude (in the words of one of my childhood heroes), "At last, I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside." 

The analogy is still that life is an uphill battle. But because I asked the question, because I elevated my consciousness, and because I uprooted the evil in my life,  all those leaves are gone, and the path is a whole lot more clear. 

So here's the question. What are you currently focusing on? Is it one of many leaves? Or is it the root? What level of consciousness led you to the problem? And how is your current focus keeping you there?