Who’s Thinking for You?

Everyday, a variety of different things are vying for your attention.  This has been true throughout history–family, work, leisure–all of it is competing for space in our brains.  But the fact is that today it is far more insidious.  We live in a world where thousands of different entities are competing to capture, and maintain, our attention and they are doing it to the tune of billions of dollars.  Television is a barrage of advertising trying to get you to NOT MISS the NEXT GAME or the SEASON PREMIERE.  Your computer, originally a powerful vehicle for self direction, is now a distraction machine.  Facebook can eat up hours of your time.  Marketers are more savvy than they have ever been at ways to capture and maintain your attention.

What is the cost to us of all this fractured attention?  It’s simple really, when we allow our attention to be captured by outside forces, we lose our ability to be self-directed.  We stop deciding the direction of our lives and start following someone else’s path.  You’ve heard it before, your energy goes where your awareness goes; when your awareness is with all the distractions that are bombarding you throughout a given day, your energy follows.  This is dangerous because it’s your energy, a function of your subconscious, that is the impetus for most of your activity, and activity, as you well know, is a key factor (if not the key factor) in achievement.

Since energy is a function of the subconscious, the one way we have to control it is through our awareness.  This is an immensely powerful choice that you have in your life–what are you focusing on?  What information fills your brain on any given day?  Do you listen to the radio on the way to work–an hour’s worth of snide, off-color commentary peppered with advertisers trying to get you to watch “the best hour on television”?  Or are you listening to personal development?  Something that will direct your brain toward the activities that will help you achieve your well-planned goals.  The fact is, if you are not consciously choosing what fills your brain someone else is filling it for you.

Distractions are like a virus in your brain.  Viruses, by definition, are anything that interrupt proper function and that is exactly what distractions do in your head.  They keep you from achieving your most meaningful goals and, ultimately, being happy  We are designed for success and find our greatest happiness as human beings in the “progressive realization of a worthy idea” (thank you Napolean Hill!).  We live up to our full potential and realize this true happiness only when we are controlling the direction of our thoughts, both conscious and unconscious.  Make your decision daily…what will fill your thoughts?  Protect your head.

Your Finest Hour

Quick! What is your purpose?  What do you live for everyday?  Why do you work?  What keeps you going?

Do you have an answer to those questions?

Most people don’t and many of those who can have answers that are incomplete or, oftentimes, meaningless.  The fact is that your purpose should be the cornerstone of everything that you do, it should drive everything from your long term goals right down to the simple things that you do everyday.

This is another key element to the happiness that seems to be so illusive to some.  Just ask the ever wise Helen Keller…

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

She’s spot on, of course.  Think about it…who do you think is happier…the actress obsessed with how she looked in the most recent slew of paparazzi shots, or the missionary bent on making sure that African children have enough to eat and clean water?

The answer is easy, but oddly, we don’t have any television programs to pick the next “lucky missionary to Africa!!”.  So many people want things that most surely will not make them happy.  And many of us who have the sense to know what would make us happy  don’t have the luxury (luxury?) of leaving our lives and our families to go tend to African children.  So what is our purpose here, now?  Whom do we serve and how?

Of course, only you can answer that question.  My point here is to stress the importance of taking the time to answer it.  William James asserts that

The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

What purpose drives you that will outlast you?  Whether it is service to your family, your community or the world at large.  What will you do?

Once you have asked yourself this question and come to a conclusion that excites you, work to  align your purpose, goals, vision and values.  When these come together you develop a belief in what is possible that is unparalleled.  You must have synergy to speed up the process.

Know your purpose and live it everyday.

There comes a special moment in everyone’s life, a moment for which that person was born. That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission – a mission for which he is uniquely qualified. In that moment, he finds greatness. It is his finest hour.

Sir Winston Churchill