What To Focus On?
Bill Cottringer

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” ~Alexander Graham Bell.

Regarding the title question, the answer in a word is—NOW. One very popular view of life is that we are all pawns on a chess board being moved around by destiny (or whatever else you wish to call it), just to see what our reactions will be. This is a provocative perspective, but a plausible one.

Now if this particular life view is true—and there is really no good reason to deny it’s plausibility as it does allow us to have our cake and eat it too in verifying both determinism and free will—then it is our reaction to what is happening to us right now, which is the needed point of focus. Too often though, there is too much to remember from the past and to hope for in the future to really spend much time in the present.

Recent brain research says free will is basically a myth and that all our decisions to act are decided unconsciously, before we become aware of any conscious thoughts or motivations regarding what we are about to say or do in a situation. I don’t know about you, but I want to believe that I at least have the potential to exercise my free will. For me, this ability is necessary for striving to do the right thing for the right reasons to be reasonably responsible and accountable in my life journey. That perspective always seems to get the best results over the long haul, at least eventually.

The new Will Smith movie, “Collateral Beauty” has a very profound message for promoting its own special version of the now focus. Although the movie makes a case for people loving more, seeing time as our most precious resource and not fearing death so much, the final message Hellen Mirren delivers with great empathy is—“During dark moments, don’t forget to notice the collateral beauty.”

To notice any beauty in our darkest moments, like during the death of a young child or sudden loss of a loved one of many years, is not something we think of or even know how to do. But maybe this movie is suggesting we at least try to renew our efforts, for the incomparable reward that is waiting. After all is said and done, it is learning to accept the dark side of life, along with the bright side as two halves of the same coin, that takes us through the great spiritual awakening in helping us to reconcile all the opposites we separated in our minds in order to finally feel the wholeness we crave.

This is the only genuine happiness and peace of mind we can ever hope to achieve, although many of us spend a lifetime trying every other possible strategy to get here, rather than focusing on the only one that really works. Like many other profound insights, this may be a little too obvious. After all, the obscure takes a while to see, while the obvious even longer.

Let me get to the main point of this article. If we are ever going to get to the finish line, we have to see how we need to react to where we are right now, to make the right choice to move a little closer to a better place on the chessboard eventually taking us where we want to be.

And it is in understanding the dark, painful and unwanted moments in life, where all the secret collateral beauty stays hidden from view, until we wake up to the only thing we can really control with our free will—our reaction to the situation at hand, good or bad, as it just is.

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” ~Dalai Lama.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or ckuretdoc@comcast.net