Attention amplifies

I recently finished reading Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham. I totally loved it, for the most part, & have a review (and psst, maybe a giveaway, just sayin’ – keep your eyes peeled) coming up soon. One of the things he mentions is something that’s been a theory of my own for a while – that attention amplifies everything. According to Buckingham, you will never solve a problem on its own terms. Instead of asking “What’s wrong and how can I fix it?”, you should be asking “What would ‘working’ look like?” and then figure out how to create working. Or just focus on what is already working, if at all possible, and amplify that.

I mentioned that Matt and I had a big fight at the beginning of the month. I went into a bit of a panic afterwards, looking up relationship/marriage self-help books on Amazon and websites and yada yada. (Which is what prompted this tweet, in case you were wondering.) A lot of the advice started out with figuring out what each person was doing that wasn’t working, and talking about why it wasn’t working, and what one person does that annoys the other, and things along those lines. Just thinking about this made my chest hurt a little bit. Really? The best advice you can give me is that we should sit down and have a conversation where we point out each others’ flaws? Yuck!

What did we do instead? We decided to declare Wednesdays (free days for both of us) date days, where the entire day is dedicated to spending quality time together. We decided to spend more quality time together in general – no roommate, no computers, just us. We decided that in addition to doing that, we were going to do something every single day – no matter how small of a gesture – that shows the other person how important and cared for they are.

I’m no relationship expert, but I’ll bet that these changes will be better for us than sitting down and pointing out each others’ flaws and how they hurt the other person. They’ve already made me feel a million times more secure in our relationship.

This tactic works everywhere; to great results. Want to eat healthier? Don’t beat yourself up about eating junk food, just make it a rule to eat more good things – and come up with a list of those good things that you can refer to when stuck. Don’t focus on being less lazy – focus on being more active. Don’t focus on spending less, instead try to save more.

By all means, get rid of (or delegate) the things about your work that you don’t love – but put more of your attention on making sure that the things you do love fill your day. Otherwise, you might end up with a workday lacking the things you loathe, but also lacking an abundance of the things you love to do, creating a rather mediocre experience.

Keeping your focus on adding instead of subtracting keeps your mindset open and expansive. It keeps your brain from freaking out about losing item X forever – but chances are you’ll be doing or having much less of it anyways, if not stopping entirely. That’st he wonder of focusing on upping the good, instead of worrying about subtracting every last bit of the bad. As Buckingham notes, by not paying attention to the problems, you’re taking away their fuel, leaving them to whither and die; which in turn creates that much more room for the parts that you’re focusing on – the amazing, strengthening, life affirming moments & actions.


    • That’s certainly how I feel about it; I was honestly kind of surprised to see how much relationship advice flew in the face of that!


  1. Great post Michele! =) I think you Buckingham have it right. Focusing on what’s wrong (especially when you don’t see many ways of fixing it) can really drag a person down. I really like the idea of focusing on adding more good while the bad slowly fades away.

    Also like the date days & daily gestures of love. =) Would love to declare date days in my relationship, but current circumstances make it difficult. Something small to show how much we care is do-able though.

    Been learning that lesson a lot lately. Start small. No, smaller. No, smaller than that.
    But hey, at least I’m finally starting. ^_^


    • I really, really liked Buckingham’s book – I had a sort of vaguely formed notion similar to it, but reading his description of the same thing made it a lot more concrete in my mind. And I think that it’s in general a really good strategy and works across the board.

      Good luck with the date days and such 🙂 Even small gestures can help a lot as long as they’re thoughtful. Micro-actions are a great way to get going on things and make a difference – because you can’t say “No, that’s too hard”, and doing them regularly also helps you to build momentum so that you can do bigger actions as well.

      Thanks for your comment, dear!


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