Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Football and Focus

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch my nephew play football and my niece lead cheers. They both did a fabulous job. I couldn't be prouder of either of them.

If you've ever been to a kids' sporting event, you know that all of the action doesn't take place on the field. The stands can be just as interesting.

First let me say that, by and large the parents were pretty well behaved. I've heard horror stories from kids sporting events. The stands at this game wouldn't even merit a comment if I hadn't noticed what I'm about to share.

Second I will admit that I don't know a whole lot about football. I know just enough to watch a game and not have to constantly ask, "What's going on?" I never played, my brother never played, and other than a guy I had a crush on for a couple months in eighth grade, I didn't really know anyone who played. So this may be standard coaching procedure and I'm just clueless.

As often happens at sporting events, the people in the stands were yelling encouragement to the players on the field. In this case, their kids. A frequent mantra among those attempting to motivate was, "Get mad! Get mean!"

After thirty minutes of yelling "Get mad!" an amazing thing happened. The people yelling it started to get mad. Granted, our team was losing and, if those in the stands were to be believed, the boys weren't playing up to their usual abilities.

But they weren't just upset. They were mad. And then some of them started to get mean. Yelling things at the refs (yes, I know this is also a common sporting event occurrence) at occasionally at their own children.

I'm not trying to make a point about youth sports or even sporting parents. Because before any of us can point a finger at them, we need to realize that we do the same thing.

What we focus on impacts our feelings, attitudes, thoughts, and actions.

Have you ever noticed that commercials for depression medications are depressing? Or that ads for sports drinks and equipment can be almost hyperactive?

What we focus on spreads itself through our brains until it infiltrates what we are and what we do.

I cannot watch cop shows of nearly any kind. They creep me out until I can't sleep at night and I jump at every little creak the house makes. It's why I gravitate to sci-fi and fantasy. When the bad guy is a fifty foot worm with green tentacles and a suction cup face, I don't have to worry about him showing up on my doorstep.

Runners know the music they play could be the difference between a mediocre run and a stellar one.

Stores know that if they emphasize how much you're saving, you won't think about how much your spending even though you never planned to buy that item in the first place.

So when I find myself acting, talking, or even thinking in a way contrary to what I'd like, I consider where my focus is. I try reading a Bible passage, spending some time in prayer, playing some uplifting music, or doing something nice for someone else. Change your focus, change your feelings.

What's the best way you've found to get your head right when it goes somewhere you'd rather it didn't?

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