Super focus

A buddy of mine and I have a saying that some people are so desperate to remain unhappy, they'll search for the proverbial needle in a haystack, just so they can jam it in their eye ...

I said this recently to another friend, who'd just taken a new job overseas. When I asked if he was excited about leaving, he launched into a laundry list of the problems associated with an international move and tying up the loose ends of his life.

He sounded miserable, so I said to him: "You know you just said seven negative things about moving overseas to a fabulous new job in an exotic, unknown city?"

I'm able to spot this habit in others from a mile away because I'm prone to it myself, dwelling on negative crap, rather than blissing out on the fact I'm incredibly fortunate to live the life I do.

I bring it up today, however, because I've noticed my daughter does the exact opposite (WARNING: NEW FATHER BLOG POST) ... she is focused, in fact super-focused, on the stuff that makes her happy.

It cracks me up continuously.

We can be in a supermarket isle, 15 metres from the Band-Aids and she'll spot the a minuscule cartoon character on a box of plasters and scream "WIGGLES!" in the most joyful of voices.

We'll be walking down the street and she'll yell "BALLOON!" and it will literally take me 30 seconds scanning the area to track down the Lotto balloons tied outside a newsagent 100 metres away.

We'll be doing 50km/h down a city street in my car, she'll shout "LION!" and, it'll only be sheer coincidence that I happen to glance in the right direction and see said bronze feline slouching above a doorway on Maquarie Street.

Of all the stuff competing for attention in her still-forming 27-old-month brain - fundamentals such as balance, walking, speech - she still chooses to see lions and balloons and the Wiggles because they make her happy; reaaaaaally happy.

If you have children, I'm not telling you anything new; in fact, a kid's super-focus on stuff that makes them happy, be it popcorn, pancakes, Dora the Explorer or your iPad can send some people batty, as they chant: "Want popcorn, want popcorn, want popcorn, WANT POPCORN!"

But give the kid this: they know what makes them happy and they stick to it.

The point I'm making is that most of us also know what makes us happy, be it exercise, family, eating well or group sex, yet too often we stray from that prescription and a week or month later, wonder why we're feeling blue.

Currently, my daughter is stuck on living in a garbage can, inspired no doubt by the Greek philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope, (or more likely Oscar the Grouch).

She wants me to move in with her.

Last week, we saw a waitress at a new restaurant in my neighbourhood taking out bags of trash and my daughter waddled/ran up to her and said: "Daddy lives in a garbage bin!"

I reflected later that, at times, I really do live in a garbage bin, overwhelmed by the imagined refuse of life, crabbing on like Oscar at all the other bright puppets around me when, in reality I have it all, I just have to focus on it.

There's a photography exhibition on at Kings Cross's Wayside Chapel at the moment called Some Place Else, which features pictures taken by visitors to the church and drop-in centre.

"Participants were given two disposable cameras and were asked to take photos of 'good' things in their lives with one camera and 'bad' things with the other camera," writes the Reverend Graham Long.

The photos are brutal reminder we all have good and bad in our lives and we also have a choice which we focus on. If you'd like to check them out, go here.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.