…are the things I try to pay no attention to.
Because what you put your mind to becomes prevalent. And the more prevalent, and the more you think about things, the more real they become.
You focus on something, and you breathe life into it, and it gets a life of its own.
And before you know it, that pebble in your shoe becomes such a big deal that you can’t walk, can’t work, and can’t even think straight, just because your mind is so occupied with ‘the problem’.
Now I’m not saying that you should pretend problems don’t exist. Doing that would be foolish.
But to focus on the problem, to deal with it, to go back over it in you mind over and over again… that’s just not very helpful.
I discovered this in the monastery, where our abbot had an uncanny way of not paying attention to problems.
“I can’t meditate because so-and-so keeps coughing”.
And then he’d reply with something like “Yes, it’s a problem. How are the trousers coming along?” (because back then I was the tailor of the brethren).
Think about it: acknowledge that this or that problem might be there, and then move on, focus on something else.
Sounds like fun, no? Sounds like you’d be free to focus on what you can do, be, build, create – while removing the imaginary need to focus on ‘the problem’.
Because that whole problem-based thinking, that’s just something we got used to in the west.
From my own experience, the best way is to recognise whatever is there, and then to focus on something else.
Time and time again, I discovered months or years later that the problem had disappeared, without me having to spend a lot of time or energy on it.
Like that terrible habit I had to overeat. Took me years of struggling with it, and it never helped.
So one day I decided that fine, if I’m going to stuff my face anyway, I might as well give myself permission to do it, and enjoy it too.
So I let go of the problem.
And wouldn’t you know it? Less than 6 months later the problem was gone, and it hasn’t returned in the last 14 years.
So if you’re struggling with problems… maybe give yourself a break.
Maybe just accept that it’s there, and then redirect your attention to what you can MAKE.
Because change comes from looking forward at potential, and not from getting stuck in a problem.