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Sparks ignite here

The 12-Rectangle Solution, Part 1


By Denise Connell, Publisher; Éclairity.org Founder

The power of a pet’s inspiration is provocative. If you’re an animal lover, you know the truth of it, and our two house “coaches” – Milo & Snow - are no exception.

(Before I share their latest spark delivered this week, you have to meet them.

Here they are as baby brothers back in 2008:

And here they are today:

Milo is the orange & white cuddler, and Snow is the phantom of our opera.)

Sleeping options abound in our house for these two. There are two cat caves next to my desk; a cat bed they share at night; and two soft human beds they take over at will, regardless if they are occupied or not. Throw in two wingbacks and a couch, the mat in our bathroom, my notebook when I’m writing, and my laptop when working, and there is no place within our domicile that is not their eminent domain.

If you’re a cat owner, you undeniably know the truth of it.

Despite this land of plenty, a funny thing happens when I bring out a blanket. It doesn’t matter if it’s laid out on the couch, by my desk, or the floor in another room, this little rectangle woos them like magic. They have an abundance of well-loved options, but without fail, their attention is drawn to the new that is seen and the inviting promise of something better right in front of them.

The same thing happens with their brush.

My sister bought this pumpkin brush for them last year, and it’s like crack for cats. Which, like a thoughtful but disciplined dealer, I give them once a day. While the coffee pot brews in the morning, our cats get brushed, much to their purring pleasure. And when the coffee is ready, the brush gets tossed back into its rectangle receptacle-of-a-drawer and closed for 24 hours.

Unless you’re smart like Snow.

Snow regularly likes to be walked. Usually in the afternoons, he meows incessantly until I pick up his 15 pounds of love-waiting-to-be-appreciated and gently walk and rock him around the house. With his eyes half-closed, low purrs rolling like waves that never recede, he surveys his kingdom and affirms that all is well. But yesterday, he showed me that “well” could be better. As we were walking and rocking, I neared the rectangle receptacle that housed his heart’s desire, and Snow wiggled free, meowing and nudging directions for what he wanted. And, like the thoughtful and undisciplined dealer that I am, I granted his wish, taking out the brush and turning his good-enough day into great.

The same can happen for us. When we take the time to see and do what we want, our good-enough year can be great, and our well-loved options can become promises of something better if we pay attention.

My cats reminded me of that this week. And neuroscientists back them up.

Google the science behind “selective attention” and “visualization,” and you’ll see what I mean. While I’m not a neuroscientist, I can sum up what I’ve researched and save you a minute until you want to dig deeper. In “layman’s terms”, two familiar phrases get to the essence of it:

"When you see it, you can achieve it” and “What you pay attention to will grow.”

If you want your dream to happen, if you want to accomplish a longed-for goal, bring it into the light; visualize its reality; and pay attention to it with your time and focus.

Sports psychology has been a frontrunner in successfully applying the science of visualization and selective attention to improve athletes’ performances, and it has extended into almost every realm of life helping people reach their goals and dreams.

How it works:  When we repeatedly imagine and see ourselves doing something specific that we want to do well – i.e. putting a golf ball successfully into the cup, or delivering an inspiring presentation – the repeated visualization increases our ability to actually achieve what we’ve “seen”.

The neuroscience part is why it works: The brain can’t tell the difference between an imagined event and an actual event. When we mentally picture ourselves achieving a goal, it carves out the same pathways and connection points in the brain as if we were actually achieving the goal over and over and over again. The new pathways forged by this repeated “seeing” make the synapses snap faster, the brain functions “as-if” success is inevitable, and it more rapidly finds and assimilates the pieces needed to make that success actually happen.

It's like magic, except the science-backed kind.

Like the blanket for our cats, when they see it, they know comfort is within reach. And time and again, they choose the rectangle that’s right in front of them versus options that are hidden or harder to see. Seeing and enjoying become synonymous, and they gravitate to what is seen every time.

Like Snow and the brush, he saw and paid attention to where his brush went: into that particular rectangle receptacle. He saw it and paid attention over and over until he could take me to it. We put a lot of useful items in a lot of rectangle receptacles at our house; but Snow set his mind on what was most meaningful to him, he paid attention to what he wanted, until he could take me to that specific place and gain the reward he desired: more brushing and more joy for his little feline heart.

When you see it, you can achieve it.

What you pay attention to will grow.

This week, I took a definitive step on the side of science for my goals and dreams by bringing them out into the light to be seen, imagined, and paid attention to. In honor of our cats, I call it my 12-Rectangle Solution, and I can’t wait to share what it is in part 2.

But first, I’m hoping this week you’ll take a moment for the magic of science to sink in and inspire your own ‘seeing’ and ‘paying attention to’ in preparation for the next to come.

Ask the deeper questions & take action

1. Take a sheet of paper and number 1 through 5. Write down 5 wishes (or “goals”) you would like to become a reality in your life this year. These are wishes that you believe would make your life more enjoyable, fulfilling, or meaningful. The wishes could be related to your health, career, hobbies/interests, education, relationships, curiosities and questions – whatever has been nudging your heart and mind to do, make happen, try or explore. Be as specific as possible. These are wishes that could actually be achieved if you set your mind to it.

2. On that same sheet, number another 1 through 5. For this set, write down 5 dreams you would like to become a reality in your life in the next 5 years or so. These are dreams that have been in your heart for a good while, and would take more time and a lot more effort to make happen; however, you can imagine that if they did, they would make you smile really big! These are the dreams that would stretch you to accomplish – they may even scare you when thinking of all it would take to make them happen – but those are sometimes the best ones. Whatever you write down, they are the dreams you love to imagine coming true.

I’ll see you next week with The 12-Rectangle Solution Part 2!

What is visualization? What is selective attention? How can I make my goals and dreams become reality? What is one easy strategy for helping me be successful? Faith and Inspiration, Eclairity.org


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