Posted by on December 22, 2013 in On Life | 5 comments


by Christina Carson

We wonder why? Why can’t I succeed? Why can’t I be well? Why can’t I sell books, stop arguing with my kids, lose weight, have a job I love, find the person of my dreams, the list goes on and on…There is an answer to the why question and the beauty of that answer is no matter what the why, the answer is always the same. In life, where you place your attention brings to you what you ultimately experience and how. When we place our attention lightly, there is little effect. But in those places where we focus down, where fear holds our attention in an eddy of disbelief, we start sucking towards us, like a mighty whirlpool, precisely what we expect to happen. I’m often heard to say to a sweet friend of mine, as she struggles with circumstances she can’t imagine are of her creation, “Look to your behavior not your thoughts. What you are doing never lies. The explanation our thoughts provide for us, however, rarely tracks true.

miyoko shindaMiyoko Shida shows you what attention rightly focused looks like. She doesn’t step into that circle fostering doubt. Fate is not a word she gives credence to. Instead, she brings herself to an inner state of balance that speaks to what she intends to create. Watch her. As you do, notice how many different ways you hear yourself asserting: I couldn’t do anything the equivalent of that.

I had the delight of meeting a young woman in Vancouver years ago who was from Australia. She was in her early twenties, traveling with her fiancé, aglow with life. She took on a job as a tourist photographer, along with eleven others, in a business my friend had where the photographers would ride up the mountain on the steam driven train and take photos of those traveling, get them developed at a lab as the tourists shopped and ate and ride back on the ferry that returned them to the city via a beautiful cruise down the straits. On that section of the trip, it was the photographer’s job to sell the photos to their subjects. She outsold her fellow employees 3:1 and enjoyed every minute of it. I realized in watching her, I was seeing someone who had somehow eluded the huge helpings of self-doubt that most of us get served up very early on in life. I remember saying to her at the end of the season, “Everyone will try to take away from you this view of life you hold, this belief that life is something you can trust, something that nurtures and cares for you. Do your best not to be convinced by their reasoning. They are fools arguing to be right about the source of their own sorrows.”

I don’t know Miyoko Shida’s story and I don’t care. I use her example as living proof that it can be done, that we can approach a situation without doubt of success and thus succeed. Why choose to do otherwise? And the truth—we get better at whatever we choose, until one moment our own balancing act produces the effect we so long for.


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  1. Lovely reminder about the power of focus and attention. As usual, you’ve provided something I need, right when I need it. Thanks, Christina.

    • Christina Carson

      Couldn’t be happier and so glad you stopped by. Thank you.

  2. Great line about behavior instead of thoughts. I might just have to use that with students (and a couple boneheaded family members). And thanks for the memories of how hard it was to do pre-digital photography (and to hustle those photos no less).

    • Christina Carson

      Please feel free. Lord knows I’ve beat enough people over the head with it, myself included. And yes, those were the old days, and the time line was so close sometimes you’d be running down main street full out to catch the ferry. Enjoyed your stopping by, Chris.

  3. Focus is the key, you’re so right! Thanks for reminding us – in this digital age, our attention wanders, drawn by a myriad of “cool” things…When we as writers should focus on one thing only: writing! Have a Merry Christmas!

Thoughtful comments are always welcome!


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