What You Focus On Expands

Caring people live in a caring world. Loving people live in a loving world. Mean people live in a mean world. Grouchy people live in a grouchy world. It’s the same world . . . what you focus on expands.

“In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. . . Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong.” ~ Romans 7: 15, 18b-19 [Bible Gateway]

Three Riders On The Subway

Things were not going well at work. And, if I were truthful with myself, things weren’t going well in my life, period. Much like the apostle, Paul, even when I wanted to do what is right, I didn’t do it.

I scanned the subway cars, looking for one that was near empty. In my foul mood, I really didn’t want to be around anyone. I spotted a car that had only 3 people in it. Shoulders slumped, head down, I stepped in, not making eye-contact with any of the others, moving to a seat as far away as I could get.

I sank into the seat, my mind racing, going over and over the events of the last few days, replaying them in my head again and again. I fumed as I remembered the argument I had just had with my wife. She was upset because I hadn’t yet finished an important errand she had asked me to do last week. I was going to do it. Hell! I just hadn’t had time.

Mainly because I was overwhelmed at work. My team had a huge project that we were not going to complete on time. I had been overly optimistic in my estimate of how difficult the job was. Unfortunately, this was not the first time I had overlooked some important facts and miscalculated the results. My boss was becoming increasingly hostile and, frankly, I feared for my job.

And if that wasn’t enough, my daughters were constantly doing things apparently just to irritate me. Those little brats never picked up after themselves. Their stuff was scattered all over the house. Just last night, I blew up and screamed at them about their bad behavior. I got so mad, I banged my fist against the wall until I busted a hole in the sheet-rock. Now, I had that repair to deal with as well.

Nothing was going right for me. Everything was falling apart!

I interrupted my ruminating long enough to glance at the others in the subway car . . . there was an older man, a middle aged lady and a young girl. [1]

Mr. Procrastination

I stared at the elderly gentleman. I knew it was rude but I couldn’t help it – he was so odd looking. He was wearing a dirty white shirt, green pants and a jacket that may have been yellow at one time. His hair was uncombed and he hadn’t shaved in several days. There were holes in the elbows of his coat and a big coffee stain on his shirt. He had a sneaker on one foot and a slip-on penny loafer on the other.

The old man caught me looking and smiled. He said, “I’m going to shop for clothes and buy a new pair of shoes someday. I just haven’t had time. And I need to get a haircut soon; maybe tomorrow. I’ve got loads of laundry to do, but I haven’t got around to it yet. I’ll do it later.” He put out his hand. “By the way, I’m Mr. Procrastination.”

Ms. Negativity

The woman across the aisle had a face like a thunder cloud. Deep scowl lines creased her forehead and her mouth was pulled down at the corners in a permanent frown as she scowled at the world, daring anything pleasant to break through her nastiness.

She was snarling into her phone. “Don’t give me that same old sob story. You never do anything right! How I got such lousy children, I’ll never know!” She glared at me as I glanced at the name tag on her jacket: Ms. Negativity.

Miss Miscalculation

I turned hastily from her and looked toward the young girl. For the first time, I noticed that she had her arm in a sling. There were scrapes on both knees and she had a shiner of a black eye. She saw me looking and smiled shyly.

“What happened to you?” I blurted, a little abruptly.

She took it in stride. “I was with some of my friends and we were walking on top of a brick wall. We came to an opening and they all jumped across. But I misjudged the distance and didn’t make it. I slipped and fell and scraped my knees. Then we were climbing a tree in the park but when I reached for a limb, I misjudged and lost my grip. I fell and broke my arm. Then, this morning, as I was leaving my apartment, I thought the door was open wider than it was but I misjudged it. I ran into the door and gave myself a black eye.”

The elderly man looked over at us. “I see you’ve met little Miss Miscalculation.”

Light Bulb Moment

I settled back in my seat, lost in thought. Mr. Procrastination? Ms. Negativity? Miss Miscalculation?

Procrastination, negativity, miscalculation. Is this how I had lost focus on the important things in my life?

I had given my wife the excuse that things were so busy at work that I hadn’t had time to do what she had asked. But if I were honest with myself, I had to admit that I had mostly just brushed her off. Either I forgot to do it or, when I did think of it, put it off until later. I was just like Mr. Procrastination.

And my children – I was so intent on what they did that irritated and aggravated me, that I overlooked all the joy and pleasure and love they brought into my life. I realized my constant snarling and sniping at them was undermining our relationship but I was only concentrating on the behaviors I didn’t like. I was just like Ms. Negativity.

At work, I was constantly distracted by minor annoyances and irritations. My e-mail notification pop-up was incessant, perpetually taking my mind off of any important task I was doing. Co-workers frequently sent chat requests or dropped by to talk. My phone buzzed repeatedly with texts from family and friends. I was so distracted, it’s no wonder I kept misjudging on important decisions. I was just like Miss Miscalculation.

What You Focus On Expands

A light bulb went on in my head as I again glanced around at Mr. Procrastination, Ms. Negativity and Miss Miscalculation, showing me to myself from a different perspective. I didn’t like what I saw.

Because I was so focused on my troubles, I couldn’t see how my poor attitude was affecting everything – and everyone – in my life. I had been focusing on what I could get rather than how I could be of better service. By focusing on everything that was going wrong, I had lost sight of the true blessings in my life. I had forgotten this important truth: What you focus on expands.

But I realized I had the power to change all that, to shift my focus and look at things differently. I could see things differently and I could do things differently. And I could start at any time . . . right now, as a matter of fact.

Fresh Start

The subway car slowed and I saw that it had reached my stop. I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Oh, I still had amends to make, relationships to repair, and some concentrated effort to get my work back on track. But I had shifted my focus. I was determined to catch things going right, rather than despair because everything was going wrong.

I stepped lightly down the aisle, smiling at Mr. Procrastination, Miss Miscalculation, even Ms. Negativity. I clambered down to the platform, excited and happier, my focus on better things.  First stop — run that important errand for my wife.

I looked back in the subway car as it pulled away. To my astonishment, it was empty.

No matter. I was ready to embrace the Excelerated Life™!


Excelerated Focus™ — aligning your actions with your true desires — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing, of well-being, meaning, and purpose.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Footnotes:

[1] I was introduced to the characters of Mr. Procrastination, Ms. Negativity, and Miss Miscalculation in a speech by Marianne Whelan at a Toastmasters speech contest. She gave me permission to use them in my story.

Resources:

Bible Gateway, “The Battle With Sin”. Bible Gateway. The Zondervan Corporation,,. 07 March 2020.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+7%3A15-20&version=CEV


what you focus on expands

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