Only time will tell if we can bring our crazy, hyperextended family together...BETTER! Come share our laughs and struggles as we test tips, tricks, and tools-of-the-trade in our quest for a more fabulous family life.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekly Focus Tip--Pay Attention! It Could Improve Your Family

This week’s tips are based on P.M. Forni’s The Thinking Life, How to Thrive In The Age of Distraction published September 2011, and adapted here for families/family groups:

• Practice paying attention. Similar to meditation in that one needs to quiet oneself and resolve to be “present in the moment”, paying attention is almost the opposite of meditation in its thought processes. Meditation requires a person to acknowledge thoughts as they pass but to not dwell on them, instead allowing them to float on their way out of your “mind’s eye”. Paying attention means to become aware of what is happening around you, being observant, and choosing to think about it. For families/family groups, this means paying attention to your family members, your family relationships, your family interactions, the world around your family, and choosing to think about it.

As Forni explains, “…it is when we are fully aware that we deal at our best with the world around us…the good life is a conscious life. The more you value life, the more you engage with it. The more you engage with it, the more you think your way through it. The more you think your way through it, the more effective you are as its trustee. It is then that you finally live out the elemental truth that in life there are no rehearsals and you only play for keeps.”

• Ways to practice paying attention: Write in a log or diary, disconnect the electronics for a certain section of time each day and attend at tasks at hand, play memory games, practice meditation, focus only what a speaker in saying when in conversation.

• Set aside time each day to reflect. This can also be done in dialogue with others and reflecting on family activities could be a positive suggestion for families choosing to practice reflection.

• Set aside some time each day to be introspective. Think about your strengths, your goals, your families’ strengths and goals.

• Embrace the positive. Instead of reacting to problems, think about how this problem could be an opportunity for you and your family to learn and grow. What will this problem teach you? What can this problem do for you? What skills can your family learn by facing this problem together?

Other ways to help embrace the positive: If you find yourself thinking in negative terms, practice stopping those negative thoughts and try to reframe them in a positive way. Look for positive inspirations from others. Exercise in moderation. Eat healthy meals. Involve your family in exercising, creating and eating healthy meals. Practice finding strengths in one another rather than focusing on the annoyances.

• Practice being proactive. Rather than procrastinating unpleasant tasks, practice acting on them little by little ahead of time. Be proactive in your family/friend interactions and relationships—build strength in them bit by bit. Look ahead and plan. Though packing for a family camping trip may seem like an arduous task, packing one bag at a time, well ahead of time, breaks down the task proactively and allows for it to be less overwhelming. Help your family members to learn how to plan and be proactive rather than to procrastinate. (Easier said than done, I know!).

• Practice decision-making. When gathering with your family, practice how to make decisions. Practice how to gather information on the decision to be made, how to make a list of possible options, how to narrow down the options to two, then to do a pros/cons evaluation of each of the two options. Make a decision between the two options. Once an option is decided upon, create a plan to carry out your decision. Use flexibility.

• Practice choosing words carefully when speaking. Practice choosing thoughtful ways to speak. Practice listening. (My family’s most difficult skill to practice!) Role play speaking and listening to one another. Play speaking and listening skills games.

A review of this book can be found in “Family Resource Reviews” at the left-hand sidebar of the blog.

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