It seems like whatever I say, whatever I think about, come up with some kind of principle for life, here’s a way to do things: there’s always some kind of an opposite way.
There’s always some kind of other way of looking at things.
And it’s the same with this idea of focus.
I’ve talked about doing one thing at a time and focusing on that one thing as if that is your entire life, to just narrow everything down to just one thing and just do that thing in the present and forget about everything else.
And I think that’s a very powerful idea, a powerful thing to do.
But I think it needs to be contrasted against the idea of having too many things going on, having too much clutter in our mind, too many different things, jumping from one thing to another, doing one thing while thinking about other things that we need to do, and sort of mixing all these things up.
So when it comes to particular tasks to do, particular work, it does seem like it’s good to focus on one thing.
But the idea of narrowing down our focus: that also has a counterpoint, that wait a minute, we don’t want to spend our lives totally zoomed in on some narrow task that we’re working on, and you know, have the focus of our lives be whatever is immediately in front of our eyes at all times.
As much as that’s I think a general good principle when it comes to doing work, and when it comes to getting specific things done, it seems like it’s also worth remembering that there’s a lot going on at all times.
There’s so much going on.
Even in times that seem kind of uneventful, there’s so many little things going on that we can completely miss them.
We can completely miss so many of the things that are going on if we focus all our attention on just one zoomed-in thing.
So as much as we can zoom in, there’s also a value in zooming out to look at the whole picture of what’s going on.
The contrast is between focus on one thing or focus on many things, because that’s just then clutter.
If we have all these different things mixing together in our minds, that seems like that’s just clutter.
But there’s a value, I think, in also not being focused and zoomed in on one particular task, but what’s it like if we zoom out and then just become aware of the surroundings around us? Something that’s so easy to forget, I can go whole days without doing it, but just sort of you know feel oh, you know, this is my environment.
What’s it like to be in this environment? I mean, we tune out all the details of the environment, because we’re focused on the specific thing.
And you know, imagine if you’re in your home.
You don’t usually think about all the details of the different parts of the room.
That’s all just faded into the background.
But maybe it can be good to notice that.
And same with our neighbourhood.
Around the city, around the streets that we normally pass through, everything starts to fade into an automatic background, because we’re focused on specific things, or maybe just the big mess of clutter of things, but not that kind of general awareness of everything that’s around us.
So this is something to go along with the zoomed-in focus on particular tasks and work, I also like this idea of having this kind of zoomed out, general non-focus, just a general awareness, you might call it like a 360 awareness, where you kind of just feel the entire environment around you, and be ready for anything new and surprising, anything- or even things that are old and not even- you know, they’re not new, but they’re maybe new for you because you hadn’t noticed them before.
If we simply have this looking at our environment as if we’re seeing it for the first time, letting it be new, letting it be interesting, letting it almost like we’re travelling, even if it’s our home neighbourhood, but that sense of taking in the way things are.
Forgetting about how we assume that it’s normal, relegated it to the background, instead let ourselves be aware of it, and just zoom out and have this kind of non-focused but general awareness of our entire surroundings.
So this I think is a counterpoint to being too focused and it’s not the same as just being unfocused, full of clutter, but being able to be in a situation and without being specifically focused on one particular thing.
It seems like that’s something that might be very helpful too.
#awareness #surroundings #noticethings