What you pay attention to matters. The stories you tell to yourself and others form what shows up in your world and theirs. Decide how you want to feel and how you want the world to be. Then start collecting evidence that proves that's where we're heading. The myth of objectivity is slowly dying. We can still speak in terms of cultural norms and popular opinion, but scientifically and socially, we are now starting to own, as a matter of ethics and as a matter of physics, that our biases and attention shape our reality, personally and collectively. We are responsible for reckoning, as much as we are able to, with how our upbringing, culture, and identities create the lens through which we see the world. Biases are slippery little things, and we can define them only so far as we know ourselves, but owning them to the degree that we’re able allows for more diverse voices in our conversations. It also allows us to own the shaping of our lens in creating the future we want to see. For once we see what our default lenses are, we see that we have unconsciously been collecting evidence for these worldviews all our lives.
What you decide to pay attention to is going to be what keeps showing up, even if it is the absence of something. Do a little experiment for a few days: Notice pink neon signs, or fir trees, or people who have a curious walk. Put it on your radar and just notice, again and again, how it shows up in the world for you. See how looking for this object changes the world around you and the frequency of it showing up in the world. Whether there were, in fact, just as many of these out in the world before you started paying attention as after you started paying attention is beside the point: They showed up in your reality. Now do a similar experiment with “thank you”s, or small gestures of generosity, or people who smile. Pick an example of kindness, and begin looking for it everywhere, not just in interactions that involve you. Pick something simple where you don’t have a ton of resistance. Notice how it begins to show up everywhere you go.
Then take the experiment to your body. You think you know your body, but from a quantum perspective, it’s not even a concrete object, so try to be loose about this. Let go of history, of personality, of hopes and dreams. First just be with one part of the body that feels wonderful (or at least neutral) in the body. It could be calmness in your ribs, strength in your calves, flexibility in your fingers. It could even be the ferocity or breeziness of your hair. Just pick something that you can directly connect with that is relatively small, relatively pleasant, and relatively inconspicuous. Connect with the emotional tone that feels most resonant and attracts you right now. For several days or even weeks, notice this specific sensation or quality in this specific part of the body, either in meditation, before bed, or just in moments of pause, like standing in line at the grocery store. Notice how just the noticing changes your experience in this part of the body, in your body as a whole, and in your quality of mind.
This technology is nothing new. Meditation, especially metta (loving kindness) meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapies, and positive psychology have for years shown the power of turning our attention to the wanted instead of unwanted. But it is time to take this a step further. If turning our minds toward ease or pleasant sensation in the body fosters not only emotional resilience and relational health but also physical health as well, then why wouldn’t focusing (observing and being aware of) something outside the body not also foster its proliferation?
If you begin to expand your experiments into evidence collection for new beliefs that truly serve you and others, you begin to change the very fabric of reality. When you believe everyone's got your back and feel connected to the world, you succeed even when you are alone. When you believe you are all alone, success escapes you though the world is giving you everything you need. No matter which belief you hold, which set of evidence you are carrying around with you, you are right. This does not mean that we are ignoring the suffering of the world or our own suffering, it means we are shifting the evidence we are collecting, orienting to solutions instead of orienting to proliferations of the problem. Collecting evidence that there is enough food on the planet to feed everyone is different than collecting evidence that there are 690 million people who are undernourished on the planet. Both are true, but the former feeds the planet. This kind of evidence collection is a way to consistently gain traction and support for a positive outcomes. When an entire community or planet begins collecting evidence, major paradigm shifts occur and major problems find resolution.
This is not a change that happens in short order. The momentum of what we have put on our radar is deeply ingrained and often inherited, not just personally but collectively and ancestrally, in our DNA. But if our approach is playful, creative, experimental, and light, and if we resist the inclination to go out changing our reality as a way of ignoring or fixing it, then we can create a whole new, non-reactive reality from the stuff of the universe already swimming around with us, whether that’s compassion or pink neon signs.