Tiny Wisdom: Focusing in the Middle of Chaos

“Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” –Alexander Graham Bell

I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of chaos. There are half-packed boxes, plastic bags full of clothes, and an assortment of decorative items I’ve yet to pack scattered around my living room.

There’s a stack of random items on my kitchen table—toiletries, paint brushes, marbles, things that don’t belong. For some reason I can’t recall, I rested a number of soup cans on the floor in front of two beach chairs that now lean against my kitchen wall.

My moving process has not been organized, which is highly unlike me. Since I’m juggling quite a bit of work right now, I’ve only been able to pack in spurts. This means I’ve needed to surrender to disorder.

Though I’m sure I could have been more methodical, appeasing my Type-A tendencies, I’m actually glad I chose not to. My messy apartment is now a microcosm for life, and I have a chance to find focus within it.

That’s not always an easy thing to do.

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t think straight until you cleaned your house? Or you couldn’t fully listen to what your friend was saying until you completed a few more items on your to-do list? Or you couldn’t relax until you received responses to important emails you sent?

It’s tempting to want to fix and finish everything before being there, for yourself or someone else, but there are certain things that are never solved or done.

If people are living in your house, it will never be totally clean. If you have goals and responsibilities, your to-do list will likely never be completed. And as much as we may like to control what other people do, that’s just not an option.

Life is chaos. It’s messy. We can create order in different systems—I’m a huge proponent of that. Being organized certainly makes things simpler and easier. But sometimes the simplest and easiest way to focus is to accept that things will rarely be simple and easy.

Sometimes the best we can do is focus on just one thing, knowing full well there are lots of other things that will just need to wait.

Photo by ms amutha

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Joram Arentved.

    Call me, Lori, pls., & I’ll immediately let you receive a relevant message, my labor situation still & after all depends on myself to exist as a true ‘optiman,’ so that I can of course become & believe in etc., greetings, ‘J.A.,’ Chile, 00562 548 29 31, ‘who told me what, ‘why & when?”

  • Fenella

    I really like what you have written about in thisbarticle. I would like to quote you in my forth coming book. How would ypu like be to reference ypu please?fenella

  • I’m actually not a tidy person by nature – chaos and clutter tend to build up around me the moment I turn my back. That said, I have been noticing a tendency towards being a *little* tidier… a *little* more organised peeking through recently.  My desk is – if not clear – then at least *neat* – certainly more than it has been in the past. 

    I suspect it would still horrify someone who’s naturally neat and tidy… but it’s the difference between a restful, relaxing place for me to work, and a source of distraction and stress.

  • Hifenella

    Please look up words like “thisbarticle” and “ypu” for whenever you plan to release your book 🙂

  • I’ve also found that an organized space is generally more relaxing. Sometimes I can get a little anal about it, which completely defeats the purpose. I’m learning to find a middle ground!

  • Guest

    Ever heard of typos, ‘Hifenella’?

  • ahhhh this article is like a breath of fresh air! thank you!!  I am in the middle of planning my wedding & recently found out that right after the wedding we are moving from California to Nashville! ;0

  • You’re welcome Melanie! That’s a big change. How exciting that you’ll have this whole new adventure with both marriage and the move!

  • gwynneve

    i am moving next month. taking only what can be put in the back of a jeep. letting go of things can be harder than moving.

  • I can imagine it’s even harder when you’re letting go of so much! Many years ago, I only owned what I could fit in a few suitcases. I work on the road then, so this made sense, but now I own enough stuff to fill a 2-bedroom apartment. I try not to get attached to any of it, but I’ve gotten used to living with all of these things. I know it would be an odd feeling to leave it all behind–yet I think it would also be someone freeing. 

    Best of luck with your move. =)

  • Jacque Shannon

    i am moving right now! what a great help.

  • I’m glad this helped. =)