My husband and I went out to breakfast this morning. At the restaurant, there was a couple there with their young son. No more than two, this little one was obviously the apple of his parents’ eyes. He was intrigued by the waiter’s bejeweled face mask. He was curious as to the hustle and bustle at the drink station located by his highchair. His exuberance was a joy to behold. The older gentleman sitting near him happily told the young couple about his own newly born grandchild. The wait staff became more animated every time they passed the table. This little one lifted everyone’s spirits.
When we left the restaurant, there was joy in my heart, and it got me thinking.
Without saying a word—that little one captivated everyone he encountered. His awe and curiosity were enlivening. The love his parents showed for him (and each other) was uplifting. There was a palpable joy in everyone who was there. The world was ordered to happiness, in that moment of time and space, in that restaurant today.
It made me realize that what we focus on directly impacts our attitudes, thoughts, and interactions with each other.
We live in a world that is fixated on chaos, negatives, and hopelessness. Turn on the news, run through social media or pick up a newspaper and you will get hit with this reality. From the Pandemic to racial tensions, from politics to natural disasters, we are fed a continuous line of tragedy, upheaval, violence, and turmoil.
As human beings, however, God has wired us to seek beauty, joy, truth, and happiness. When our environment is in direct conflict with how we are wired, we will experience an inner-disconnect that wreaks havoc, both interiorly and exteriorly.
The little boy in the restaurant made me realize that what we focus on is truly what we see. In his world—everything was new and fresh. There was a bounce in his step and a curiosity that was enlivening. He was filled with joy and the world was his.
You may say—but he’s only two. He doesn’t have bills to pay. He isn’t confronted with the realities and hardships of life. And yes, that is true.
But there is another truth at work here. And it has to do with our choices to notice what we notice.
If I choose to focus on the negative, that is exactly what I will find. I will gravitate toward the chaos. I will seek the imperfections—in others and myself. And when I do, I will be swallowed up by the hopelessness that is consuming us individually and as a nation.
If, however, I choose to focus on the good and the beautiful, I will be drawn to it. I will see the little child. I will be lifted in spirit—just as I was by everyone in that restaurant. When I change my focus, I will see the world differently. That focus has the ability to unite—just as it did the people of all ages and races, in that moment in time, in that restaurant.
What we focus on in life is our choice. This does not mean we sweep problems under the rug or ignore issues that need to be addressed. But, if we seek the good in each other, if we seek what is beautiful and true, we will have peace in our hearts. We will be motivated by hope. Love and joy are the fruits of such focus, which builds unity—and isn’t that just what this world needs now?