Carving a Path Through Life

Focus on the Bigger Picture with a Lion Mind

this lion has his focus on something
I wouldn’t want to wave a bone in front of this guy.

Some people like to lift weights, run, or do yoga. Meditation is more my style. I didn’t get into it until late in college, and I have times where it’s more important to me than others. Going months at a time meditating on a daily basis for 10-20 minutes, and then not doing it at all for a month or two isn’t uncommon for me. Every time I practice on a regular basis, I feel better, more relaxed. I assume this is the kind of thing that those who work out on a regular basis feel. Recently I came across a guided meditation called “Lion Mind.” This guided meditation contained some interesting concepts about focus and being successful.

Different Minds of Focus

If you are interested in meditation, you can download an app called Breathe, it is made by Stop Breathe and Think. It has many guided meditations which will walk you through the steps you need to take to practice meditation. The one I found is called Lion Mind, on Youtube. For the first two minutes Micha Anderson, who is a program director at the Mind Body Awareness Project, talks about holding a bone in front of a dog and then in front of a lion.

Dog Mind

He says if he waves the bone the dog will follow it, panting and excited. If he throws the bone into the corner, the dog will chase after it. I’m sure if you got a new bone the dog would lose his interest in the current bone and follow the new one. The dog reacts to the bone being thrown “It’s almost as if he didn’t have a choice to do it.”

Lion Mind

Micah goes on to talk about what would happen if there was a lion in front of him. If he tried to tease the lion with the bone what do you think it would do? “He [the lion] has his eyes on me because I’m a big bag of bones right?” Micha points out in the meditation. If you threw the bone in the corner, like you did for the dog, the lion would ignore it. He would choose to stay focused on you. Sure, he might notice it fall into the corner, but he knows that there is little value in the bone. The bigger picture is the person.

Which would you rather be? The dog who runs off, distracted by the bone. Or, would you rather be the calm, cool, and collected lion focused on the man, not the meatless bone?

Our Mind

This concept struck me. The story shows that focus alone isn’t what will lead you to success, both the dog and lion had focus. Focusing on the bigger picture, on the biggest piece of meat, is what will get you there.
We live in a world where a million different things are fighting for our attention. We have to learn to choose the bullshit to put up with. Our school didn’t teach us how to deal with these distractions. Our parents can’t teach us how to ignore the distractions of social media or cell phone updates because they are just as new to it as us. As a result, we all need to learn how to pick one thing and focus on it, and practice removing the rest from our line of vision.

dog has his bone but would lose focus if another appeared
That’s a big bone for a small dog.

Learn Focus

How do you get from a dog mind to a lion mind? You will need to be able to recognize four things, and they aren’t always easy to spot.

Bigger Picture or Goal

The first thing is knowing what your bigger picture is. My bigger picture is growing my blog, writing every day, and reaching financial independence. Yours might be building an online business so you can travel the world, or graduate with your Ph.D. within the next year, be able to afford a sports car, or to sit down and work on that piece of art you’ve got in your head. Regardless of what your bigger picture is, you need to know what it is, concretely.


The second thing to recognize is a distraction. Distractions are anything that takes you off the path to your end goal. If your goal to is to finish your Ph.D. then going to a party the night before a big test is a distraction. If your goal is to write a novel, watching TV before and after work is a distraction.

Shiny Objects

Lastly, there are shiny objects. These are tricky little bastards. These are distractions, but they disguise themselves as something that might help you to your end goal. If your bigger picture is to finish a Ph.D. within the next 12 months, a six-month co-op is a shiny object. A co-op of six months looks great, it will make you money, give you job experience, and you will find contacts in your field of study. However, it will hinder you from finishing your Ph.D. within the next 12 months, which is your bigger picture.

Changing Paths

It may not always be a distraction. Sometimes your path changes from what you initially laid out. Ask yourself, is this taking me away from my goal? Or is it taking me another way to my end goal? If your path is changing it is because you were presented with new information. I had to change my way when I realized my job was making me sick. New data entered my life, and I could no longer proceed down the original save 75% of my income path. I had to get out and find a new way to reach my Financial Independence goal.

Final Remarks

Luckily for you and me, a dog can ignore distractions after training. We can practice training ourselves to cultivate a lion mind. When dogs gain focus, they can do amazing tricks.
Work to focus on your bigger picture, ignore distractions and those damn shiny objects. You will inevitably be distracted. When this happens, refocus on your bigger picture. By doing this, you will undoubtedly reach your goal.
What is your bigger picture? Do you have distractions or shiny objects in your life? What are they? Where is your mind in the spectrum of dog to lion? Comment below and let me know.

Photo Credit:

Martin Pettitt & Kevin Fillips

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