You are powerful. You can choose whether to focus on the cement of the sidewalks—or to find the clovers in its cracks. Your choices have the power to instantly change your mood.
Truly, your thoughts impact how you feel (your feelings, mood). And your feelings impact your behaviors (how you interact in the world, what you accomplish).
So which thoughts you choose to focus your attention on—is powerfully important.
You may think thousands of thoughts a day and endure distractions and distressing moments. But ultimately, you can choose which thoughts you allow to be the soundtrack of your day.
It starts by being aware of what you are telling yourself, which aspects of your situation you are spotlighting with your attention—and then deciding to concentrate on thoughts that serve you, move you forward. Not allowing disempowering thoughts to derail you.
The goal: see reality as it is. See both the cement of the sidewalks and the clovers in its cracks. And then choose to focus on the energizing green sprouts because it helps you. (For a bonus boost: be grateful that the clovers even exist—it will immediately elevate your mood.)
You’ll feel happier, stronger, less stressed as you go about your day.
And it’s easier to do the work necessary to achieve your goals and live your best life when you choose to focus on thoughts that enhance your well-being.
When you optimize your mental health habits—you can accomplish more.
AWARENESS: What is one important goal you are currently working to achieve? What is the “cement” (the challenges, obstacles, hassles) you are facing as you journey toward your victory? What might represent the bright, hope-inspiring “clovers” (the good, helpful, or meaningful parts of your current experience)? How often do you think about those clovers?
ACTION: Focus on the clovers. They can help uplift your mood, motivate you, and accelerate your success. But it’s NOT about avoidance. It won’t help you to deny the challenges you face. You need to see the reality of your situation so you can efficiently and effectively navigate it.
Here’s the truth: don’t deny the cement, but don’t dwell on it either.
If you focus too much on the difficulties or negative—it can set you up for higher levels of stress and discontent.
So, you need to look for and appreciate the good. And by training your brain to find the clovers, you’re helping yourself overcome the brain’s negativity bias—the tendency to notice and focus on the negative, rather than the positive. (Check out New York Times bestselling author Dr. Rick Hanson’s brilliant book Hardwiring Happiness to learn more about brain science and mood.)
One way to help yourself focus your thoughts on the good: write. Write a list detailing at least three positive things that are happening, or have happened, as you’re working to achieve your goal. Try to be as specific as possible. Note new skills or strengths you’re developing. Lessons you’re learning. Unexpected friendships forged. Clarity gained. Any moments of growth, courage, connection, or successful problem solving.
Put the list somewhere you’ll see it often. You have the power to boost your own happiness and make the path to your goals less stressful and more enjoyable—just by remembering to focus on the clovers while you walk.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”—Marcus Aurelius
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”—William James