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Look Where You Leap: Manifesting Good Things in Your Life

What I am about to tell you is a little bit embarrassing. I share it with you in the hope that we may all be reminded of an important life-changing practice.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who is an experienced mountain biker, invited me to join him on a mountain cycling expedition. I took him up on the offer (mistake number one)—although to be fair, for the most part the experience was fun. However, at one point while descending a hill, I hit a section of the trail that was ravaged with gnarly grooves (some as much as a foot deep). When I saw the grooves, I tensed up (mistake number two). Focusing intently on the grooves so as to avoid them (mistake number three), I instead slipped into the grooves with gravity thrusting me forward from a bad angle . . . with a bad result. I went over, face-forward. I only saved the aforementioned face by sacrificing my arm and notably my elbow—which still hurts even as I write. Luckily I escaped more serious injury.

Why am I telling you this sad story? To garner a little pity?

Perhaps, but there was a positive lesson (re)learned which I’d like to share. The lesson comes to me from one of the most sage and emotionally-intelligent people that I know—my son, who is an avid cyclist. I was sharing this story with him when he gave me this feedback from his own experience: “Whatever you are looking at when you are biking you will likely hit, so look at where you want to go.”

This got me thinking. The lesson obviously goes beyond mountain biking and avoiding potholes in the street. If we want to be healthy, we should not focus on how sick we are but focus on being well. If we want to be rich, we should not focus on how poor we may be, but on working toward wealth. If we are unhappy, etc. . . .  (you get the idea). This is easier said than done, however. Why? In his book, Hardwiring Happiness, Dr. Richard Hanson explains that the brain evolved to be alert to negative situations to aid us in survival. Therefore, it is second nature to focus on the “grooves in life.” We, like our ancestors before us and the society around us, are conditioned to focus on the negative—faults we have, things we lack, threats we face.

There’s an ever-popular “philosophy” or practice that has emerged from the wisdom-of-ages based on what some call “The Law of Attraction.”  It basically states that we will manifest or attract that which we think about most—whether negative or positive. Or, as my son would say, we will hit what we focus on. Mother Teresa once commented to the effect that she would never participate in an anti-war protest but she join a march for peace.

This “Law of Attraction” has shown up in many different contemporary spaces (the “name it and claim prayer,” the practice of affirmations, “The Secret,” and even some aspects of positive psychology). Now some of these “practices” can verge on magical thinking—with God or the Universe showing up as a bell-hop delivering room service. But what some call the “work of attention” (or others might see as aligning with God or the Universe) is not magic. It requires commitment, focus, intention and time. The discipline of shifting our attention from the negative tracks and traps in the mind to focus on what we want to manifest instead increases the chance we will hit where we want go.

So if you are poor, unhappy, sick, self-doubting, angry or envious—don’t focus on how much money you don’t have, how sick you are, how much you don’t like yourself, who or what you are mad at, and what you don’t have. Instead focus on wealth, getting well and fit, being happy, loving yourself, forgiving others and being grateful for what you have (or will have). Practice this over time, change the brain, bend the Universe and see if it makes a difference. And most of all, if you go mountain biking, focus on the flat part of the trail (or walk the bike down).