How to Stay Focused On the Light

candlelight How to Stay Focused On the Light

“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light a candle that can guide us through the darkness to a safe and sane future.”  — John F. Kennedy

How does one stay in the know, without getting lost in the noise?

This is a topic I touched upon in my essay last week, but I want to raise it again because it’s a question that I think about almost every day.

It’s a question that I’ve started to pose to my friends, to thinkers that I admire, to our Sunday Paper columnists, and to those who actually are awake to what’s going on in the world. I want to know what they think and how they’re dealing. I want to know how they are balancing the weight of the world with the need to stay focused on one’s own life and inner world.

After all, living one’s life from an open, light-filled space does require focus. It requires a firm commitment to look up and look forward so that you don’t get dragged down by all the noise, rage, jealousy and anger out there.

For me to stay focused on the light, I’ve started to implement some changes into my daily life:

  • I’ve streamlined how I consume my news. That means I don’t check Twitter constantly. I don’t keep the TV news blaring in the background of my home. I don’t click every link that gets sent to me. I don’t get distracted or alarmed by the false urgency of every “breaking news” alert online and on TV.
  • I’ve limited my time on social media. I check it during my downtime, but not all the time. I try to follow accounts that inspire me and unfollow the ones that stir up feelings of jealousy or frustration.
  • I’ve made time (as in capital T) for social engagement in my life. I schedule it and make it a priority, just as I would any other item on my “to-do list.” I’ve also blocked off time in my schedule to read and write poetry since this brings me joy.
  • I write down the qualities and the values that I want to bring forward in my professional and personal life. I start each morning by reading my list out loud before I meditate. Doing this helps me start each day from a place of focus, intention and calm. I haven’t always done this, but now I realize just how essential it is.

As the world rages on and as others try to drag us into the noise, it’s critical that we have the tools we need to resist this pull. That’s why I want to encourage you to find your own tools and practices to guide you through your days.

I know that I want to be informed, but I also can’t know everything. Trying to stay updated about every last thing isn’t good for anyone’s mental health or clarity.

That’s why it’s equally important for me to consciously seek out stories that give me hope, that restore my faith in humanity, and that make me smile. That’s one reason why we’ve added the “Yippee! Moment of the Week” to The Sunday Paper. I’m so glad you seem to be enjoying it.

I’m also aiming to keep an open heart and an open mind about the news that I do consume, especially as the 2020 presidential race kicks into gear.

Rather than rushing to form opinions or cast judgments, I am striving to stay open to every person’s perspective on how to move our country forward. That’s one reason why I sat down to interview former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on his book tour this week. While there are many different opinions about Schultz’s prospective presidential run, he is still a self-made man who has designed his life and his company with the mission of making a difference.

His words in our conversation made me think, as did the words of Sen. Amy Klobuchar during her CNN Town Hall this week. I’m trying to listen to the words of everyone interested in the race, so that I can reflect on their points of view and better shape my own.

Noise is everywhere, I know. But the truth is, you don’t have to be in the noise to be “in the know.” You can rise above it, but it has to be a choice that you make each and every day. Many of you tell us The Sunday Paper helps you rise “above the noise,” and for that we are grateful. After all, it is our mission to share news and views that inform and inspire you each week.

Below, I share with you my list of values that I read to myself each morning. This list will keep evolving, but so far I’ve found these words and this practice very helpful in keeping me focused on the path toward the light.

-Be calm. Be clear. Be consistent. Be kind!

-Be creative. Be collaborative. Be curious. Be kind!

-Be compassionate. Be courageous. Be conscious. Be kind!

-Be strong. Be smart. Be scrappy. Be strategic. Be kind!

-Be passionate. Be purposeful. Be persistent. Be patient. Be positive. Be kind!

-Be flexible. Be focused. Be firm. Be forgiving. Be kind!

-Be informed. Be inspired. Be imaginative. Be innovative. Be kind!

-Be open-minded. Be open-hearted. Be open. Be kind!

-Execute excellence. Expect excellence. State expectations. Be kind!

-Set goals. Set boundaries. Set expectations. Be kind!

-State my vision clearly, calmly, and consistently. Stay the course. Keep my eye on my goals and do something every day to move the needle forward on those goals. Be kind!

-Inspire hearts and minds. Be a force for good in the world. Move humanity forward. Stay above the noise. Be kind!

So this week, think about what you value. Think about your priorities. Think about how you can seek the light. If you’re looking for a way forward and don’t know where to begin, then just start by making a list like mine. It can be the very first step toward living and breathing the life you want.


Dear God, please help me find the light this week. Help me to lead my life with intention and with values. Help me to be the light I am seeking and shine it on others. Amen.

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