Cancer or a 6:30 martini; which do you prefer? Winifred Gallagher had both. Here’s her story and her remarkable discovery.
Winifred Gallagher was diagnosed with cancer. Not just cancer, but a nasty and fairly advanced kind.
In her 2009 book titled Rapt, Gallagher recalls walking away from the hospital after being diagnosed with cancer and having this sudden and strong intuition:
“This disease wants to monopolize my attention, but as much as possible,
I’ll focus on my life instead.”
Her treatment that followed was exhausting and terrible, but Gallagher couldn’t help but notice that her commitment to focus on what was good in her life—”movies, walks, and a 6:30 martini”—instead of constantly focusing on her cancer, was working surprisingly well during that difficult season of her life.
Gallagher writes, “My life during this period should have been mired in fear and pity, but instead it often felt quite pleasant.”
Through her experience with cancer, Gallagher set out to better understand what the role that attention plays in a shaping and defining the quality of our life. That is, she wanted to better understand how, what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore, directly effects how we feel and how we behave.
According to Gallagher’s experience and ongoing study, plus what decades of research from numerous other like studies –
Gallagher concluded that our brains construct our worldview based upon
what we pay attention to.
If you focus on a cancer diagnosis, you and your life become unhappy and dark, but if you focus instead on an evening martini, (her focus for delight), you and your life become more pleasant—even though the circumstances in both scenarios are the same.
As Gallagher summarizes: “Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.”
Gallagher’s discovery reaffirms a universal truth that God established eons ago… “As a man thinketh, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
So The Obvious Question Is:
What are you focusing on? What are you giving attention to?
How you and I answer that question, to a great degree, determines the direction in life we go and the quality of the life we live.
Living on Purpose
Ken L Roberts
*Excerpts taken from the book Deep Work by Cal Newport
Please Leave A Comment: I’d love to hear how you “practice” having right thinking.