Sunday, December 29, 2013
A Mindful Christmas With Focus Forward
This Christmas we took a different path of celebrating the day and took a short trip on Christmas Day to the small town of Marble Falls, Texas. The only place open in the town for activities was a small movie theater where we saw the new The Secret Life of Walter Smitty movie. From there we enjoyed a magnificent Christmas light display the town puts on every year. A volunteer told me that the display is put up by townspeople but they also receive help from a local prison that sends a team of inmates to help string lights. Those same inmates are invited back before the display opens to the public to see the fruits of their work and enjoy punch and cookies. She mentioned for many inmates it is a touching experience to give back to society in that manner.
Back at the hotel I had time for some reading so took the occasion to read through my December issue of Mindful magazine. Sitting there reading I was thankful that we had a relaxing Christmas day together with no major cooking or cleanup. This time of reading also gave me the time to be reflective. Mindfulness is being able to appreciate the present moment . I thought that had been a part of the evening for me, starting with the Christmas light display. Strolling through and viewing the lights with my wife and daughter gave me time to reflect on the message of Christmas and the importance of this holiday in my present and past. The crisp cold air gave me the reminder of Christmas time even though being in Central Texas there was no snow unlike my Ohio and Chicago Christmas days. Viewing the displays I was able to fully able to fully enjoy them in the moment while at the same time they brought up fond savoring memories from Christmases past.
This time of year I do also begin to think of the year ahead of new goals and plans for the year ahead. It was interesting that the Mindful issue had an article that inspired me to reflect on my new goals and plans for the coming year. The article was “Focus” by Dr. Daniel Goleman. The article shared thoughts from his latest book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. I have always been a strong supporter in my teaching college students concerning his concepts of emotional intelligence so this was the highlight article of the issue for me.
The article mentions the lack of the power of focus for many people in our modern technological world. In a Twitter, texting world minds are more scattered and less focused. I noticed this the other day while attending a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert. Two people beside me at the beginning of an amazing show were looking at other videos on the one person’s cell phone. Also throughout the show many people I noticed, instead of taking in the show with the focus on the performance, they had their cell phones out either texting or taking pictures and videos of the show. Why? To prove on Facebook that they were there? By mindfully being focused on the performance I was able to deeply appreciate the group’s talent yes, but also more importantly be touched by a powerful story of the meaning of Christmas within the story being told by the narrator and singers. I understood that Dr. Goleman was right -- focus is important.
Within the article he shared three aspects of focus I had never thought of before. He shared that to have what I call a living more than ok life of abundant living, we need to consider three vital aspects of focus. First is to focus on the inner world, other relationships, and the outer world. The “inner focus” zeroes in on our personal values and our personal unique strengths. The second is the “other focus” that relates to an emphasis on our relationship with others in our circle of influence. The third focus aspect to consider is the “outer focus” that encourages a consideration of the big picture of the larger world around us.
As I reflected on what Dr. Goleman was saying here how these three aspects of focus can move us towards excellence; I thought of how I usually worked through personal goals in the past. I would say my personal plans were usually planned with just the inner focus. So as I move in to the New Year with my planning and new goal preparation, I am deciding to add into the planning the “other focus’ and the “outer focus” to add new dimensions in the planning process as I prayerfully and mindfully consider ideas for my life in 2014.
Reflection: Do you find yourself more scattered in your thinking and your life? Did you take time to mindfully enjoy the meaning for Christmas in your personal life? What do you think of Dr. Goleman’s concepts of having an inner, other, and outer focus?