What are you Focusing on?

What do you focus on in your life? Do you focus on all the things that are going well in your world or the 18 million ways things could be better? Do you take the time to reflect on what's good or do you have endless mind chatter about what's going wrong? 

In yoga, what you focus on is called your drishdi.  What is your drishdi in life?  If you try a balancing pose such as tree pose without a drishdi, it's pretty hard not to wobble. And if you close your eyes? Well that takes deep practice to not fall over. Examine your life drishdi and evaluate if it’s one that’s inviting balance in or keeping it out.

In positive psychology, a similar concept is the attention bias. Attentional bias is the tendency for people's perception to be affected by their recurring thoughts at the time. (Wikipedia)

If you're focused on how everyone has wronged you, you tend to see life through the everyone has wronged me lens. If you focus on how you've always overcome adversity in life, you tend to see yourself through a more positive self-efficacy lens. 

• The attention bias of the mind makes people see what they are thinking about.
• “What you think about you’re more likely to bring about.”
• Work with your thoughts.
• Switch your focus.

If you're having trouble getting out of a negative tail spin - remember that negative emotions narrow and focus you. In order to have better thoughts available to you, you might need to broaden and build from a positive state. Use your curiosity to get out of the narrowly focused feedback loop and then build from the positive. 

Change Your Perspective

When reframing thoughts and practicing real time resilience, you can change your perspective to get out of a negative thought loop. You can say to yourself, that's an interesting situation I'm dealing with, another way of seeing that is ... It's a question that flips the sitch on its head. Because remember our negative emotions narrow and focus us, they zero in on the catastrophe and crop out the rest of the scenery. 

With a camera, the switch is easy. A change in perspective makes the photo more interesting. Shooting from above (eagle eye view) or shooting from down on the ground (worm's eye view) are much more interesting angles than shooting a photo from normal eye level. Part of what elevates a fine art photograph from a snapshot is choosing a perspective that isn't the same old same old. 

These photos were taken when I took a moment to just look up. The first one is actually my cell phone camera accidentally set to selfie mode. It was pointed at the ceiling and I noticed the top of my Statue of Liberty parade crown (on my head) was just peaking through on the screen, juxtaposed next to the rather aesthetically interesting ceiling at my parent's house. I wasn't intending to take a ceiling selfie, but when I saw this little serendipitous frame, I took the picture. 



This photo I took inside of the Aspen Art Museum. I had gone to see an exhibit on a particularly stressful day right before Christmas. I was very caught up in the Merry Stressmas festivities and needed to take myself out of that madness. So I popped into the art gallery. I was in a lower level gallery, looking at paintings on the wall, when I noticed footsteps up above me. The museum has some interesting glass floors and I happened to be standing a story below it and caught several museum goers walking over my head. 

This photo is taken inside of a tent in our back yard. My kids wanted to have a camping night and my husband and I wanted to test out our gear before going too far. As I was helping set up the tent, I was on the inside and looked up only to see such interesting colors and zippers. They were begging to be photographed. 

You can also just change your focal point. You decide what you want the viewer to focus on. The whole tone of the image changes based on what you focus on. In the photo of me, I asked my husband to focus on the cookie dough heart that he and the kids had made for me for mother's day. The gift had made me laugh out loud - unbaked heart shaped cookies. They know that I prefer the dough to the finished product and had lovingly shaped it into a heart. To remember this moment, I wanted the focus to be on that heart, on that thoughtfulness, not on me.

In the second photo, I focused on the horse as it framed my friend Susan. Susan is an equus coach and I wanted to show that in an interesting way. Quite honestly, I'm not sure the photo works that well. She's a bit too out of focus for my preference, but, as I've instructed you guys, I was playing with an idea and seeing if it would work. If I had the chance to do it over, I'd try a few different strategies to get the result I was looking for. In the 3rd image, I chose to focus on my friend's reflection as she was walking on the beach. I know that she isn't a huge fan of having her picture taken, so I wanted to be respectful of that, yet I also wanted to remember this moment of walking with her by the ocean.

In the 4th photo, I chose to focus on my daughter's skeleton staff. She wanted the photo to look as scary as possible and focusing on that sweet little face was not going to give that same harrowing feel. Ok of course she's still darling and the photo isn't that scary, but we tried with the shift in focus to give her what she wanted. 

The Life Lens

something up close in the foreground and leave it out of focus.  Do you see beauty in the background or does it bother you that what’s front and center is fuzzy?


2) Go out for a photo walk with an assignment to focus on a certain color. Pick orange for example - then walk around and see how much orange you notice. Switch to blue and notice how much blue pops out of nowhere. 

3) Do a photographic gratitude list. Walk through your house, your car, your office and take pictures of objects, people, places you are grateful for in your life.