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  • Jered Stewart

Attention Matters

“Pay attention!”  The drill instructor screamed as I pivoted the wrong way.  “What is wrong with you? Why weren’t you paying attention?”  Going through basic military training was quite an experience and one thing you had to do at all times was, “Pay Attention!” 


I remember a quote I heard at a leadership training a few years ago.  “What you give attention to grows.”  I may have used this quote before, but it struck me again in its simple truth.  It applies to both the good and bad in life.  If we give attention to the good things (nutrition, exercise, relationships, being kind), then those things will grow, but if we choose to give attention to the bad things (social media, isolationism, anger, poor nutrition, no exercise), then those things too will grow, and not in a good way.  Attention matters.  


As spring approaches this discussion of attention makes me think about gardening.  Have you seen the garden at Nichols Village in the summer when in full bloom?  It is quite beautiful and if possible, you should take a trip up the hill this summer and check it out.  And the gardeners at Four Mile Village always seem to impress.  I took pictures in front of Building B a few years ago because it was beauty to behold.  And the Phoenix Courtyard is an oasis in the downtown Haverhill desert.  Not many know of this beautiful green spot in the middle of downtown.  But none of these things happen magically, all of that beauty is the result of our residents acting with purpose and giving those spaces appropriate attention. 


Gardening requires a great deal of attention.  You can’t just throw seeds on the ground, cover them in soil and check again in 3 months.  Well, you could, but the results probably aren’t what you would want.  We also need to water, weed, prune, and fertilize.  It takes effort.      


Attention also matters in our relationships.  Do you want to improve your relationships with family and friends.  Perhaps you need to give them more attention.  It’s never too late.   


Sometimes wisdom is found when we aren’t looking for it, and last year I found it at a Taylor Swift concert.  One of her songs says, “the drought was the very worst…When the flowers that we'd grown together died of thirst.”  I don’t think she was talking about gardening…I suspect this was about a broken heart from a lack of attention.  Don’t let the good things in life die of thirst.  Water the things that matter and of course, don’t forget to pay attention.      


“What you pay attention to grows. If your attention is attracted to negative situations and emotions, then they will grow in your awareness.” – Deepak Chopra

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