Focus on the Good

“Focus on what’s good,” is the motto of the principal of my son’s new school next year. Last night we went to a parent’s open house at the middle school for next year’s sixth graders. First off, it brought home that my son is getting older. Call me crazy, but tears welled up with my son heading into the world of lockers and changing classes. I’m not typically one to hang on to any stage of childhood, I love to watch my son grow, but ack. Middle school!

But I digress… I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and positive energy that came from the teachers and students of the school. A couple of times it was mentioned how the principal is the fourth one in four years, and how much they like him. It was mentioned that in a time of budget cuts and all kinds of financial craziness, the principal’s motto has been, “Focus on what’s good.” It’s clearly rubbed off. I don’t think you can fake the kind of positive, caring energy I saw in the school last night.

It is a good reminder of a truth I’ve learned time and time again: What we focus on, we get more of. As Christine Kane puts, “Energy flows where attention goes.” If we focus on the good, the positive, the healthy… we’ll align our actions and get more of that. If we focus on the bad, the negative, the damaging… we get more of that too.

As I was thinking about this today, I realized it’s really the underlying philosophy for my Find Your Eye classes. It’s amazing how we look at ourselves or our artistic work and can so easily see what we need to do better. Participants say, “I need to learn more of this” or “I should be trying that.” But what I think matters most, in our photography and in our lives, is to build on the things that are already going well and working for us. Somehow in life we got this idea that we need to be “well-rounded” people. Good and strong at everything. If you believe this, I have news for you. No one can be good at everything. Let me say that again:

No one can be good at everything.

Not me. Not you. We look at other people, compare ourselves and see our own short-comings. What we should do more of is looking at ourselves and seeing where we are strong. Take pride and confidence in those things, and build on them. We do that with your photography in Find Your Eye, but the concept goes well beyond art and into life.

I’m very pleased to have my son heading into a school with this philosophy. In the face of all sorts of challenges, it’s a great attitude and can change the whole environment. It will create great opportunities for conversations between he and I, and will help cement this truth for me as well.

“Focus on the good.” See what’s good in your life and in your art. Build on that.

Today’s image is another market/wheels image from San Francisco. There was a Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building the day I met my photo friends. I was a little early and made a great use of my time. I’m still working on this one, I’m not sure if the cropping is quite right. I love the soft light and the angle on the cart with the crates. I’ll focus on the good in the image as I continue to work with it.

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  1. says

    Wonderful post, Kat! I am much better at casting off the negativity and looking for the positive than I used to be — it has changed my life. Your little boy is off to middle school already? It sounds like the school has a a very wise new principal. :)

    • Kat says

      Argh, I know, middle school. It makes me feel old. It made me feel even older to see the age of some of the teachers…

  2. says

    Love this, Kat! The photo immediately captured my heart, and the words are what I needed to here, as I am being ever so cranky. Enjoy your almost sixth grader…it’s an awesome age. I know since this is the grade I teach. So much fun!

    • Kat says

      Oh how fun, good to know I have a 6th grade teacher around here for some advice if needed!

  3. says

    I’m just returning from my beautiful vacation – catching up on your blog – and love this one on how we focus. It’s been my challenge for quite some time to look at my photos and find something good. Now, Kat, I think I’ll take this challenge and focus on the good in my life and all that surrounds me. Oh, what a fun way to start the day!