One of my favourite concepts is the power of focus. Indeed, focus is all meditation is – deliberately focusing on a chosen thought. Being able to hold your mind steady in the midst of chaos is really the training that happens when we sit in meditation.

“Look at the road, not the ditch”

There is incredible power in deliberately turning our gaze away from the problem so we can focus on the solution. Solutions do not live in the same space problems do. I am not saying that it is wise to ignore important issues, quite the opposite. It is useful to look squarely at what troubles us, but lingering – wallowing – in a problem does not serve anyone.

Whenever an issue comes up in my life, I wallow (ok, yes, still a human being here) for a time. Then I go on a hunt for meaning, context and solutions. I look for the lessons, growth and joy that have sprung from the difficult times. And they are always there. There are always lessons, growth and joy in the midst of every problem.

Ultimately, it is not our problems that define us but our response to them. In that, we have a powerful opportunity in every second to choose “Who do I want to be? What kind of choices does that person make? How can I make this better? How can I contribute to change, even if it is small?”

When I encounter disturbing world news, I avoid hopelessness and despair, by focusing on the possibility that the situation might change. I daydream about what might be needed to help. I visualize the solution. I focus my thoughts on the knowledge that in this huge world there is at least one skilled, talented and compassionate person who has dedicated their life to solving this problem. I visualize the money, resources and connections needed by that person, flowing to them easily and freely.

From that place, I might do a bit of searching to see if I can donate to a cause that might help. Or share a video that inspires create solutions and thought. I search out people and organizations that are genuinely helping and support them.

Shifting focus contains the seeds of hope and joy.