3 Tension duos: Attention or Intention, Price or Worth, Happiness or Joy?

Photo by Andy Lee on Unsplash

As we are entering the second lockdown in France to try to flatten the curve of Covid-19, this is the first time in my life where I feel a little bit anxious about the future of us.

I have always been able to see the bright side in life despite all the challenges life threw at me so far. Yet with the unknown number of waves of Covid-19 coming, I am struggling to make sense of what is important or not, while locked away from other sources of positive energy like social interactions with family, friends, colleagues, and the rest of the world.

I figure out this the best time to reflect on some tension duos that are tearing me apart in life, right now.

Indeed for the first lockdown, we were 3 in a small apartment, downtown in Toulouse, France. It was a challenge to keep our son Noah sane in a closed environment. As this new lockdown is coming, we are fortunate to have moved into a house outside of the city of Toulouse. Despite the fact that I am aware of my blessings, I still struggle sometimes to choose between attention and intention, to focus on my price or my worth, to seek happiness or joy.

If you have been there, then you know what I am feeling.

Of the billions of choices that we have to make in life, I find that these 3 duos are the ones creating most of the tensions in my life.

ATTENTION vs. INTENTION — When we are young, seeking the attention of our parents is a way to show that we are here and that we matter. We get instant feedback and gratification. So we build our existence around that loop of attention-seeking to validate our presence in this world. And with social media, where influencers are the warriors in attention-seeking, we are eager to spend all of our time mimicking them in the search for instant attention. Yet like the notifications buzzing in our phones, attention is doomed to disappear once we click on it, emptying our perforated bucket. Attention is tied to other people’s willingness to give it to us. It is an external currency over which we have no control over.

Intention is, on the opposite, an internal currency on which we can tap in forever. Most of the things that we do in life with the intention to improve ourselves, with the intention to pay it forward, are what last longer. Our intention is the belief from within, that the things we do are not tied to other people’s approval.

When I interrupt a colleague during a meeting to “correct” her, I am seeking attention. When I let her finish what she was saying, and then provide my feedback from my perspective, I am doing it for the intention to improve myself and add value to the conversation.

We spend all of our life seeking other people’s attention, our parents, our bosses, our peers. we end up with a lot of frustration because attention is a limited resource. On the opposite, we can share our intention in all our actions and move on with our life.

With attention comes stagnation, with intention, comes action.

PRICE vs. WORTH — With the pandemic, we have seen how much the essential workers are worth more than the small tag price society put on them. We can put a price tag on everything in life if we want. This price is arbitrary and depends on who is doing the pricing. Once again, price is an external assessment of an individual. One hour of a nurse is 1 million times less expensive than the same hour for a footballer like Cristiano Ronaldo or Jeff Bezos.

Be it at work, in our communities, we are constantly looking for ways to increase our price tag.

Just because a colleague is paid more than me does not mean that person is with more than me.

So why am I trying to always get more money? Why do I think that my worth is tied to how much material things I possess? Or possess me?

My worth is my real wealth. It is something within my grasp. I can learn more and provide more value to people to increase my worth. I can be just a small employee in a big corporation. Yet I can create more worth for me than the CEO of that same company could give me. Because once again, price is tied to money, which is a limited and scarce resource. Worth is a resource from within. And we have more means to increase our worth than the price tag that people are willing to put on us. Educating ourselves, increasing our network, adding value to our community, to our people, are just some ways to increase our worth without any external input.

Because at the end when we die, if we only have money, people will share it between themselves. Our worth is what people will really miss, it is what makes us unique and what will die with us.

HAPPINESS vs. JOY — We spend our whole time seeking happiness, more precisely looking for things that will make us happy. Yet happiness is the most scarce resource in this world. There are so few things or events that can make us happy in our life. For some, it is to be a millionaire or a billionaire. For others, it is their favorite football/soccer or basketball team winning the world series. For some, it is that big promotion t work with all the attention that comes with it.

If we look closer, most of the things that we think can bring us happiness, are either very scarce or rarely within our control. Happiness is the most overrated nectar in our world today. On top of that, once we are millionnaire, once we got that promotion, the feeling of happiness will fade away like a candle in the wind. And we are back to square zero, starting for the next happiness source that might never happen. Between those long periods of happiness seeking, we are overwhelmed by frustration and anxiety. And most importantly, we are being depleted of our most valuable resource: our time.

If happiness is the extraordinary thing that might happen to us, joy is the ordinary thing that will happen to us, every single day of our life. Joy is like breathing if cultivated properly. We can seek and find joy every day in what we do.

For me, I find joy every day in small things like being able to stand up on my feet, like seeing my son laugh and run around. I find joy in going to work and listening to the music I love in my car. I find joy in having lunch at work with a colleague who is as crazy as me. I find joy in seeing other people finding their own joy, day in, day out.

We may find happiness sometimes in our life if we are lucky enough. We definitely can harvest joy in our life multiple times, every day f our life.

If we choose to go from attention to intention, from price to worth, from happiness to joy, we are taking back the reins of our life. We are not outsourcing our actions, our true wealth, or our source of positive energy to external sources.

We are really being in charge and making sure that the tension in those duos is, if not annihilated, is reduced to its minimum.

Are you more attention or intention?

Do you look for a price tag or a worth flag?

Are you extraordinarily happy or ordinarily joyful?

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You can read my previous article on The spectacular now, a life lesson from a colleague and friend John.

Photo by Andy Lee on Unsplash

📖 Griot 🧙🏿‍♂️Mentor 🦄 Intrapreneur 💪🏿 Entrepreneur