Shifting attention towards happiness

Moment-to-moment experience is largely influenced by where attention is focused, and most of the time attention shifts automatically from one event to the next.

When seemingly positive events happen, this hardly seems problematic:

It’s a beautiful day outside, your hot coffee taste delicious, the lunch you have with your friend in the afternoon is a delightful, your projects are progressing well, etc.

Other times, when seemingly perturbing events happen, this makes for a daunting experience:

The rain outside is making you feel down, the coffee machine is broken, your friend forgot about the lunch appointment, your project is running into roadblock after roadblock and can’t seem to get a break, etc.

Instead of running on autopilot and being beholden to wherever your attention takes you, it is possible to notice the shifting of attention from moment to moment and deliberately redirect your focus when it’s helpful.

For example, when something causes you to feel anxious, angry, or frustrated, it is possible fully recognize these feelings while intentionally shifting your attention towards choosing to be happy. This isn’t to say that shifting attention is easy or will always work in the moment, or that distressing events magically go away, but with practice and intention it is possible to at least recognize more often that the choice to be happy really is available to you.



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William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (