3 Ways to Boost Your Focus

Focus

 

 

 

 

 


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 4,  2019.


Trapped  indoors during winter provides ample opportunity for restlessness to set in and I begin to lose focus. Failure to see things with clarity is the difference between a fulfilling day versus a lukewarm attitude.

According to Hall of Fame baseball manager Tony La Russa, “There are always distractions, if you allow them.” How exactly does one NOT allow distinctions? Daily interference attack us in the forms of fatigue, hunger, negativity, annoyances, work/family obligations, the list goes on and on! While distractions will continue to exist I discovered three simple ways to boost your focus— and overcome major distractions.

Write Down Your Goals

An incredibly simple and easy remedy to listlessness and lukewarmness involves creating a list! Make a list of your daily, weekly, or monthly goals and habits that you want to work towards. Your list need not be lengthy.

This weekend I suffered from an intense lack of energy when it came to my dreams to become a professional freelance writer. Thinking about the countless “to-do” items made me sink into a feeling of being overwhelmed and inadequate. Making a small list of my goals for this week and checking them off greatly boosted my focus.

One Step at a Time

Along with creating a list, it is so, so important to remind yourself to slow down. Distractions cause us to think we need to accomplish our goals ALL AT ONCE. That mentality could not be further from the truth. All of the various advice I received from authors, bloggers, and freelancers on Youtube advise of the need to develop a plan carefully and not to skip any steps in the process.

Reflect on Daily Successes/Failures

Dolly Parton stated, “I thank God for my failures. Maybe not at the time but after some reflection. I never feel like a failure just because something I tried has failed.” Some of my greatest “failures” or at least what I considered “failures” at the time became successes. Only after distancing myself from the activity of the day, that is, reflecting at night do I truly recognize how to be thankful and learn from the successes and especially the failures.

I hope these tips helped to boost your focus. If you have any other ideas for things that helped you fight off distractions throughout the day please list them in the comment section. Please share these tips with others fighting daily distractions.

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 “I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” — Hilair Belloc

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” — George Lucas

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St. Francis de Sales on Gratitude

This Lent I am revisiting the great spiritual treatise of St. Francis de Sales’— Introduction to the Devout Life. Reading a couple meditations each day provides me ample time to reflect on the wisdom of the timeless truths of the Gospels as given to the world by God through St. Francis.

During the height of a stressful work day, I gazed at this book on my desk and resolved to take 5 minutes of my break to read the third meditation.

Everyday is a gift form God

 

 

 

 

 

 

The theme for that meditation was titled: On Gifts of God. Below is an excerpted section from this third meditation:

Considerations:

  1. Consider the material gifts God has given you—your body, and the means for its preservation;
    your health, and all that maintains it; your friends and many helps. Consider too how many persons
    more deserving than you are without these gifts; some suffering in health or limb, others exposed
    to injury, contempt and trouble, or sunk in poverty, while God has willed you to be better off.
    2. Consider the mental gifts He has given you. Why are you not stupid, idiotic, insane like many
    you wot of? Again, God has favoured you with a decent and suitable education, while many have
    grown up in utter ignorance.
    3. Further, consider His spiritual gifts. You are a child of His Church, God has taught you to
    know Himself from your youth. How often has He given you His Sacraments? what inspirations
    and interior light, what reproofs, He has given to lead you aright; how often He has forgiven you,
    how often delivered you from occasions of falling; what opportunities He has granted for your
    soul’s progress! Dwell somewhat on the detail, see how Loving and Gracious God has been to you

Affections and Resolutions:

1. Marvel at God’s Goodness. How good He has been to me, how abundant in mercy and
plenteous in loving-kindness! O my soul, be thou ever telling of the great things the Lord has done
for thee!

2. Marvel at your own ingratitude. What am I, Lord, that Thou rememberest me? How unworthy am I! I have trodden Thy Mercies under root, I have abused Thy Grace, turning it against Thy very
Self; I have set the depth of my ingratitude against the deep of Thy Grace and Favour.
3. Kindle your gratitude. O my soul, be no more so faithless and disloyal to thy mighty
Benefactor! How should not my whole soul serve the Lord, Who has done such great things in me
and for me?

Reflection

What probably gave me most pause from the above except was St. Francis’ second resolution he charges: Marvel at your own ingratitude. Wait, what? Marvel at my epic fail of thanksgiving this week?! Yes, you read St. Francis’ words correctly. Pondering your own failure to be thankful for the gifts God bestowed upon you is a necessary step towards improvement of an attitude of gratitude.

It did not take me long reflecting about my own spiritual ineptitude. Most of my suffering and negativity this week stemmed from failure to simply thank God. Thank Him for the gifts— however big or small— He already provided me.

Gratitude helps to stave off greed and pride. I am thankful that I decided to spend a small amount of break-time in prayer. I am grateful for the example of holiness St. Francis de Sales. Finally, I am thankful for the gifts of my faith, family, and friends that God grants me daily!

Related Links

Gratitude is Our Oxygen

St. Francis de Sales: Franciscan Media

Introduction to the Devout Life


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Productivity Hack to Ease Anxiety

Save time
Using your time wisely leads to time savings.

⚙️Productivity hack—Use 15 minute power performances to complete tasks.

Your attention is split in different directions all the time.

You either consume and/or create via social media, email, podcasts, videos, and blog posts.

😦 It can cause anxiety. Some days I feel the pressure.

One simple change to how I approached tasks related to my work helped ease anxiety.

I focused on only one task for 15 minutes.

Zeroing in on a single task at hand led to:

📍Laser focus

📍More accomplished

📍Increased quality

📍Feeling better

📍Saved time

I stopped jumping around between checking my emails and various social media channels.

This approach to task management will work for any schedule—parents especially.

🚀15 minutes is short enough between daily interruptions but long enough to power through one task.

It takes time for a laser to build its charge. You may need some time to charge up.

Use 15 minute power-up sessions to plow through tasks.

❓Thoughts?

❓How do you improve productivity?

Share your ideas in the comments section.

Thank you for sharing!

Fasting from Fast Food

fasting and eating.jpg

 

 

 

 

 


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 29,  2019.


The idiomatic phrase ‘you are what you eat’ usually comes up at the beginning of each New Year. Health experts, fitness coaches, doctors, and well even your family and friends may have resolved to eat better and more nutritionally in 2019. Last month, my wife gave birth to our fourth child [Yes, the fourth is finally with us!].

Along with the excitement of bringing a new child into the world comes an added responsibility that one more person is dependent on us to learn about the world and grow as a productive, respectful, and loving citizen. the fourth is with us

Graces to Guide

Our daughter received the Sacrament of Baptism this past Sunday—the entrance into the life of grace as an adopted child of God. Not only do we as parents have the duty to provide for her physical well-being, more importantly, we are charged with the [awesome] obligation to be the first educators of the truth of the Gospel. During the Baptismal Rite the celebrant (priest or deacon) proclaims the following to the parents and godparents of the child,

On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him (her) is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his (her) heart.

If you are not aware of the Christian Baptismal ceremony than I certainly hope you have learned a bit our the significance of that event. However, you may be reading this through the lens of an already faithful Catholic and this news of Baptism may not be too novel. “We already know the significance of Baptism! What does ordering a juicy cheeseburger have to do with Baptism anyways?!”

Once a person becomes a member of the Church the sacramental life of grace only just truly begins. In order for me to be an effective teacher and protector of the Catholic faith in my household I need to increase in holiness myself. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving” (CCC 1434). 

fast food gif.gif

Problem of too much food

Among the seven most poisonous sins includes the vice of gluttony. Gluttony refers to a type of greed, specifically in relation to food and drink. Excessive overindulging in food leads to all kinds of issues—for both the body and soul. Saint Josemaria Escriva plainly describes the ill effects of gluttony by stating, “Overeating is the forerunner of impurity.” Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) if  we cannot take care of ourselves physically what hope do we have for spiritual progress?

temple of the holy spirit.jpg

Both my wife and I started an exercise program called The 21 Day Fix. While that title speaks of a fix, a more appropriate moniker would be reorientation. Spending three weeks of portioning our meals, ensuring a balance of all the food groups, and regular fitness regimen will help us re-focus our daily living towards health and wellness. My wife challenged myself and her to give up fast food throughout the week.

Parents will children know how easy it is to fall prey to the temptation for the quick and ‘easy option’. This is especially true when schedules get crammed with school and work obligations.

keep calm all in this together

 

 

 

 

 

Fast for Freedom

I implore the Holy Spirit for the virtue of temperance to aid me in staving off the alluring sin of gluttony. I also challenge you to fast from a thing in your life that may have consumed your lifestyle— it need not be fast food, perhaps, you suffer an addiction to social media, gossip, or material possessions. Whatever temptations you face in your life please know that I am with you in this journey of holiness. More importantly, our loving God knows our struggles and desires to help us overcome then.

Please feel free to share your particular temptations and/or resolutions to grow in holiness in the comment section. I greatly desire to have a conversation with you and will pray for strength in your situations!

 

Thank you for sharing!

Ash Wednesday: Why Christians Wear Dirt on their Foreheads

Ash Wednesday

Death. Self-sacrifice. Fasting. Self-denial. These are the dominant words  and phrases for the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday begins the 40 day period before Easter Sunday. Our consumption culture goes against the practice of denying the self of earthly pleasures.

According to Thomas Merton, “Even the darkest moments of the liturgy are filled with joy, and , the beginning of the Lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast.” Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. This article will examine a couple reasons for why Christians wear ashes upon their foreheads.

Memento Mori

Latin for “remember that you must die” memento mori is the motto for Lent. Christians are called to die to selfish tendencies—sin. Before receiving ashes we hear the priest tell us, “Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.” This is a reference to Genesis 3:19.

God reminds Adam and Eve that they will eventually die. That reminder is extended to us every Ash Wednesday. Thinking about our death should not lead to morbidity. Death is a transition from this life to the next. St. Rose of Viterbo said it well, “Live so as not to fear death. For those who live well in the world, death is not frightening but sweet and precious.”

Call to repentance

Along with reminding us of our mortality, ashes point to the need for conversion. Throughout the Bible ashes were used as an outward sign for the need for interior repentance.  In the book of Job, the main character refers to ashes several times. Job 2:8 states, “Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.” To close the book, Job calls to mind his need for renewal by uttering, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

Another example from the Old Testament comes from the Book of Esther. Learning of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews, Mordecai, chief adviser to the king, performed acts of penance including tearing at his clothing, donning a sackcloth, and wearing ashes.

The prophet Daniel also used ashes in similar fashion. In Daniel 9:3 the prophet proclaimed, “I turned to the Lord God, to seek help, in prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”

Free and No Obligation

While Ash Wednesday is among the more popular days of the liturgical year it is actually not a Holy Day of Obligation. People pack churches lack sardines in a can. Why? Probably because you get free ashes. People love free stuff.

The temptation of Ash Wednesday is to parade yourself for the rest of the day as a holy individual. Certainly holiness is a goal for everyone, but we have to be careful of displaying piety for the sake of publicity. Jesus touched on this topic in Matthew 6:5: “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them.” The key is mindset. Keep God first and yourself last.

Ash Wednesday meme

Be witnesses to the faith. Don’t be afraid to wear the sign of the cross on your forehead.  Ash Wednesday is a great tradition in the Church. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit to guide you deeper in prayer. Fast and give alms to increase in virtue. May you have a blessed Lent!

Related Links

About Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday: Catholic Answers

Reflections on Blessed John Henry Newman’s Lenten Sermon


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Wish you great blessing during this Lenten season!

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Book Review—Finding God in the Mess

Wintertime is the perfect time for beginning the Lenten season. Cold blustery winds remind us of the harsh tactics of the Devil. Barrenness across the land  represents an outward appearance of humanity’s destiny without Christ in our lives.

Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Time to draw closer to the Mystery of the Cross. One great way to help draw yourself closer into conversation with God is through meditation on the daily events in your life. How do God work in the ordinary? The book Finding God in the Mess: Meditations for Mindful Living is a great simple book to prepare your heart and mind for God. Co-authored by Jim Deeds and Brendan McManus S.J., this published by Loyola Press focuses on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spirituality.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

The book is divided into four themes: process of life, pain, struggle, and growth. Each section begins with a quote by St. Ignatius. Meditations are concise which are great for daily reading and reflection questions follow each reading.

Scattered throughout the book are meditations that implement lectio divina (divine reading)—a traditional Catholic way of reading scripture to draw closer to God. Passages of the Bible are referenced or quoted and the reader is asked to ponder the characters, actions, and scenes.

No matter your mindset this book will be an invaluable resource this Lent. According to Deeds and McManus, “Wounds are important sources of our stories” (p. 70).  Lent is a time to prepare for the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Sin separates us from God and others. But this is hope. We can always repent. Ask for forgiveness.

Finding God in the Mess provides short meditations based on Ignatian spirituality. Reflection questions coupled with  beautiful pictures  help to draw the reader deeper into the mediation. I suggest getting this little book for yourself or as a Confirmation gift

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