I’ve noticed in my own life, and more and more in the popular literature of today, the lament of a lack of presence and focus in our daily lives, partly due to the power of the pocket internet machines we carry. Regardless of the diatribes against overuse of social media and electronics in general, this, I know to be true: when my attention is scattered, everything tends to fall apart. (Especially my prayer life.)
But how can I tell if I’m truly focused on something? Part of it is being able to tell if I am truly in the moment. Am I thinking about something else? Is my mind wandering? Is my body language acting interested in the person or thing in front of me? In any given moment, my actions reveal where my focus is.
But the other way is to look at the things you’ve chosen to do in the past, and what you’ve managed to achieve. I can tell that I’m not very focused on the cleanliness of my house, because I can’t remember the last time I dusted the corners of the living room. But I am focused on the nutrition of my kitchen, because I can remember looking up new recipes on how to cook the mounds of squash that are now piling up on the countertop. Looking into the past, my chosen actions reveal where my focus has been.
And I’ll be honest: I’m not always focused on the right things. I’m often focused on what makes me feel good, or what is easiest (to the detriment of a long-term goal). I can see this in my life when I neglect things to a point of crisis, or when I wake up one day and realized I had wandered from God.
It’s tough to take the time to examine these things, but it’s critical that we do set aside time to journal, reflect, and think about what we’ve chosen to focus on, and whether or not that focus is in alignment with where we want to head–closer to God, closer to a deeper spiritual life and self-development, kindness to others.