Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Intention and Attention

I used to think a lot about The Secret--the idea that if we think about things in the right way, the things that we want to happen will happen.

It is a very intoxicating notion--that if we just think correctly, we can have success. That the universe is energy, and that what it brings to you is what you have attracted. Some people swear by this and some are very dismissive of it as New Agey garbage.

I myself have had experiences where I thought that The Secret might be in action. But as time has passed, I have wondered if it is maybe something different, and a bit more subtle.

The Secret says to focus on what you want to happen, rather than the things that you don't want to happen. There is no doubt that this is a good thing. We spend way too much time worrying about bad things, rather than focusing on the good. When we meet someone positive, the chances are very good that if asked, that person will say that they think about the good things in life rather than the bad. That their proverbial glass is half full. And let's face it, those kinds of people are generally more fun to be around. People who are worried all the time are a bit of a downer. They can suck the energy right out of you if you are not careful.

But I am still not sure that attitude is everything. Instead, I wonder if what we accomplish is based on what we pay attention to.

There is a great video on the internet that speaks to this phenomenon. The viewer watches some people playing basketball. Some are in black shirts and some are in white. The viewer is asked to count the number of times the ball is passed among the members of the white team.

While you may be able to count the number of passes, in doing so you miss the other things that are going on. Like the fact that there is a man in a gorilla suit that walks across the frame. The video is a microcosm of life. There is so much information that we never see or process, simply because we are expecting to see, or looking for, something else.

When we have an idea of what we want to do, we tend to notice those things that fit with that idea (and to miss lots of other things). If you want to open a business, you tend to notice things that fit with your idea. Or opportunities that you might not otherwise have picked up on. It may seem as if the world is changing, and of course in a way, it is. But what is really happening is that you are now attracted to the things that are consistent with your goals. Not the other way around.

To me, that is the real secret. And it is the reason that when you know what you want and focus on it, it is much more likely to happen.


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