What’s your focus?

Published 9:45 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2019

By Nathan Rice

The summer was quickly coming to an end, so I thought I’d see if they wanted to have one more fun outing in the sun before school started and the weather began to change. They did, so we started by heading to McDonald’s for lunch, which for some strange reason is their favorite place to eat. We traveled to a park where a playground and a train ride awaited them. Following the park was a stop at an ice cream stand where they had a wide variety of tasty treats from which to choose. It sounds like a great day, right?

It was for most, but one girl was determined to find fault in all that was done. She just knew another kid along for the journey was going to annoy her. McDonald’s took too long to cook the order, and the cheeseburger was overcooked. The train went too slow, and the sweat from running on the playground was making her back wet. The sun was too bright, and the air was too hot. Even the ice cream didn’t help as she lamented the fact that we were going to eat under the shade of a giant umbrella instead of taking it home.

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There was a lot for her to enjoy, but she was determined to find fault in everything that was done. This determination made the day a lot less enjoyable for her.

Many of us have probably been there with children. We’re doing what we can to make the day enjoyable for them, but they remained focused on every little thing that isn’t perfect. It can be frustrating because we’re seeing the fun they could be having, but their eyes aren’t on the enjoyable aspects of the day.

What many of us fail to realize is that we often do the adult version of the same thing. We remain focused on everything that is not perfect in our lives instead of enjoying the good things around us.

Sometimes we determine that we are not going to have a good time. The girl in our outing knew that another kid was going to annoy her, so she started the trip by being annoyed at the potential of being annoyed. It tainted her whole day. We often determine that things will be bad, and we create self-fulfilling prophecies because our minds are made up no matter what happens. We’re so focused on the negatives, and even the potential negatives, that we can’t see any positives.

Other times, we are guilty of wanting everything to be so perfect that we cannot see a majority of the good things that are around us. She was holding an ice cream too large for her to finish, surrounded by friends and people who loved her, but she was upset that we had chosen to eat at this specific spot. We may not pout that we’re not eating our ice cream at a particular place, but we may pout that our homes aren’t big enough, the hours at our job aren’t great, and everything in life isn’t exactly how we want it to be. Things will never be perfect in this life, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good.

I learned that day that what we choose to focus on has a humongous impact on our ability to enjoy the good things that are all around us. Perhaps life would be better if we all chose to focus on the good things instead of dwelling on the negatives. I bet we’d enjoy the train ride and the ice cream just a little bit more if we did.


Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.