Sweat & Smiles: The Importance of Paying Attention

By Melissa Romano on May 05, 2018 from Sweat & Smiles via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Are you paying attention? And if so, what are you paying attention to?
I listened to a commencement speech recently that spoke about what a Liberal Arts education really means. I paid extra special attention since I, in fact, have a Liberal Arts education. Often it’s said that a liberal arts education “teaches you how to think”; the commencement speaker went in depth as to what he hopes that to mean: that we recognize our power to choose what we think about. 
This was a profound thought to me. I’m often asked why I’m so moved by something as simple as a tree, flowers, or laying in the grass and I always respond the same way: because I’m paying attention. I guess what it comes down to is that we’re all paying attention, we just choose different things to think about. 
I’ve had people approach me about something they’ve read in a blog or heard in one of my videos and how much they wished they had that perspective. The truth is, it wasn’t my natural perspective. Or maybe it was but it wasn’t the perspective I was paying attention to. The majority of my life my perspective took a very “why me” approach. Everything was happening to me. Life was happening to me. People were doing things to me. When I was stuck in traffic I’d think, this is happening to me. If someone cut me off, it was personal. If the customer service rep couldn’t help me, it was personal. 
It. Was. Exhausting. I didn’t notice the sun, the moon, the trees, and I’d long forgotten the childhood joy of lying in the grass. 
I imagine when people use the phrase “woke” they’re talking about the experiences I started having. I’d read a blog like this, talk to a person, hear something on the radio, read a book … some way little bits of information started reminding me to pay attention. It was like waking up from a deep sleep. The most obvious things that were constantly around me started bringing me great joy. The moon could bring me to tears, not because the moon did something new but because the moon was still doing it’s spectacular thing and I started paying attention.
Life wasn’t happening to me anymore. I became an active participant. I stopped taking things personally, especially since I have come to learn that nothing has anything to do with me. The Second agreement of The Four Agreements (it's a wonderful book) says: 
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally … Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.” 
If I were stuck in traffic I was compassionate and grateful to the workers doing the road work, or praying for those who may have been involved in an accident, or sending positive energy to those around me in a hurry to get somewhere important. 
If someone hurt me I recognized that they weren’t personally doing something to me but that their behavior or words were a direct result of something happening to them internally. 
If the customer service rep couldn’t help me I realized that she was simply doing her job and probably dealing with a significant number of people who held her responsible for things far beyond her control. I made it a policy to be especially kind to people in these positions. 
This happened a few years after I completed my Liberal Arts education but I can certainly attribute some of that education to getting the wheels turning. Perhaps that commencement speech started the wheels of the audience. Maybe this blog will get your wheels turning. Regardless, my wish for any of you reading these words is this: start paying attention and remember your power to choose what you think about. 
Sweat & Smiles,
Editor's Note: Melissa (Romano) Robbins is the founder of You First a personal training program created because of a strong belief that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself! After graduating from West Virginia Wesleyan College she completed 200+ hours to obtain her Professional Certificate of Personal Fitness Training from Pierpont Community College.  Since 2009 she has worked full-time as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and wellness coach. She believes in functional fitness, healthy lifestyle changes and a holistic approach to a better, happier life. She was born and raised in Clarksburg and is married to Bridgeport native Alan Robbins, owner of First University baseball facility. Alan and Melissa welcomed their son, Cannon in September 2015. Visit Melissa's Web site at  https://youfirst.fitness/ or email her at melissa@youfirst.fitness.

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