This is the sixth in the series on Happiness and how soft skills can ‘up’ your happiness level. Today we’re looking at the last of the five barriers that block your soft skills and reduce your happiness.
This barrier – Left Focus – is obsessed with logic, and blocks off your creative abilities. Breaking through it gets Left Focus into balance, and allows space in your life for creativity, intuition, and serious fun…essential ingredients for a happy life :)
- consider how to dissolve this rigid barrier
- look at the impact this has on our happiness
- learn a simple happiness-habit
If you’d like to catch up first with the previous episodes you’ll find them here:
Of course logic is necessary in life. Using our analytical and rational skills is essential in framing and making sense of our reality.
In the previous episode we saw how a lack of this objective, structured side of life leads to chaos.
But a Left Focus mechanistic approach has dominated for many years. It has become the norm and has spread to all areas of our lives; from our earliest education it permeates approaches to learning, progress and success.
We are taught that anything that can’t be measured isn’t valuable.
Of course we all know, just by living life, that this isn’t the truth!
But Left Focus is nothing if not persistent.
It’s hard to avoid its influence, and this produces a barrier that cripples our potential and our joy.
“Much of our education seems to have been designed
to destroy what is so unique in humanity –
the balance between our rational and intuitive selves.”
H.R.H The Prince of Wales
Perhaps the Left Focus emphasis was beneficial when life was more predictable, more repetitive, more stable.
But in times of rapid change, we definitely need different skills…the very skills that Left Focus blocks.
Unfortunately, when us humans are under stress, or trying to handle uncertainty, we tend to default to what we know, what we’re comfortable with.
We’ll convince ourselves that the best strategy is the one we’re familiar with, regardless of its suitability to the situation. So we don’t take risks, or try out anything new, anything that really shifts our way of thinking and living.
But right now the world is undergoing massive upheaval. And if we’re to navigate this uncertain terrain successfully we need to be flexible, innovative, intuitive.
When reality is so ambiguous, Left Focus logic is not our best tool – personally or professionally.
“The organisations of the future will increasingly depend
on the creativity of their members to survive.”
Hidden In Plain Sight
As discussed in previous episodes, each barrier has a particular challenge when it comes to recognising it – Downward Focus because it’s covert, Right Focus because it seems benign, and so on.
The challenge with Left Focus is that it’s so pervasive we struggle to grasp the damage it does; it seems right because it’s so familiar.
It uses its logic to persuade us of its importance, and has made it hard for us to disagree with it.
The barrier of Left Focus has become normal.
We know through our own experience that, for example, human progress isn’t linear, statistics are often nonsense, ‘more’ doesn’t equal greater happiness, and that the most precious things in life are intangible.
Yet we wholeheartedly buy into the Left Focus illusion.
In doing so, we block off some of our most valuable human assets.
“People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition
end by starving the best part of the mind.”
William Butler Yeats
Business As Usual
Left Focus loves bureaucracy!
It wants outcomes nailed down before anything has started.
It needs to be certain of a route and destination before setting off anywhere, and gets twitchy if there are any detours.
It believes that people should fit into a system, rather than a system be geared to human behaviour.
In fact, it cant stand the muddle that is human behaviour.
We know Left Focus is in control when we:
- make a plan and get annoyed if there’s a hitch
- won’t take a small risk
- are rigid in our thinking
- ignore our intuitive responses
- never take a detour just to explore
- judge and criticise quickly
- stick to a strategy even when it’s not working
- don’t allow mistakes
“To live a creative life we must lose the fear of being wrong”
Joseph Chilton Pearce
Left Focus – The Controller
When it becomes a barrier, Left Focus:
- takes our intuition, imagination, and creativity, and bashes them into submission
- dismisses anything that we can’t prove to its satisfaction, by its criteria
- looks at our ideas and dreams, and ridicules them
- insists we follow its rules
- expects us to change to suit its systems and processes
This attitude is pervasive in many organisations. It’s responsible for the ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ mentality which has seen the downfall not only of companies, but also of entire industries which were blinded by a Left Focus way of thinking.
“Enron executives were meeting their goals.
But they were the wrong goals.”
If an organisation is blighted by Left Focus, the damage will not only affect the organisation as a whole, but also the individuals who work there. Unless we’re in a leadership role there’s little we can do to remove Left Focus from a company culture.
But we can do something about how it affects us personally.
Breaking the Barrier
As with all barriers, identifying the presence of Left Focus and recognising its impact is the first step to breaking through it. For us to do this, the challenge is that Left Focus is considered normal, plus it’s very controlling. And when we stand up to it, we risk ridicule, even if only from ourselves!
One excellent way to break through this barrier is by using its own preferred tool – logic.
There are many truly logical reasons why paying attention to and developing our intuition, our imagination, our creativity makes sound sense, both in business and our personal lives. Gathering these reasons gives us a good arsenal with which to counteract Left Focus.
“I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.”
The skills that are at our disposal once Left Focus has been broken through are the secret to our success in a rapidly changing world. These are the skills that allow us to flow with change, to be flexible and adaptive, to use our intuition as well as our intellect, to be creative, to link disparate ideas and forge new solutions, to be playful and to enjoy life even though it’s ever-shifting beneath our feet.
As Left Focus attempts to harness us, and pull us back into line, we can remind ourselves that trying to tie everything down in a Left Focus way is a neurotic, fearful response to life.
Yes, it is the currently accepted paradigm…
But does it make sense?
And does it make us happy?
What about choosing a different approach, one that works in harmony with the reality of life.
“We can try to control the uncontrollable
by looking for security and predictability,
always hoping to be comfortable and safe.
But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty.”
Happiness Habit: Be Creative
To develop this week’s happiness habit, do small things differently.
It’s that simple!
As you go through your day, be aware of the ‘grooves’ you fall into.
Then shift them.
- Always get up at the same time? Set the clock a little earlier
- Listen to the radio? Put on a radio station you’ve never heard
- Eat breakfast? Try something different
- Walk to work? Take a different route
- Never read a newspaper? Buy one that’s not of your political bent
- Always go to the same shops? Go into a type of shop you’ve not been in before
- Keep yourself to yourself? Strike up a random conversation
And so on…
Try to notice and then nudge yourself out of your routines, in small ways.
Listen to what Left Focus has to say about it…
And counteract it with logic of your own.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Next week we’ll look back over this series on Happiness, and wrap it up in a big cheery bow!
Meanwhile, if you’d like to share any of your creative experiences I’d love to hear about them.
And if you’d like some additional reading to help you on your barrier-breaking way, pick up a copy of How To BreakThru the 5 Barriers To Happiness.
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