It's a saying that comes from Buddhist ideas- that what we focus our attention on shapes our experience.
This idea is being supported by current work in the study of the brain, through brain imaging technology, we can see the connections in our neural networks forming! It's impressive.
How do we make use of this information, to improve our lives?
One way is through what people commonly call a 'gratitude practice'. or what our grandparents might have called "count your blessings". Every once in a while, I get reminded of this- in my work, in my life at home: the simple abilities that are so easy to take for granted. Things like: balance, fine motor skills, flexibility, mobility. And bigger things, like a safe home and friendly neighbours, and a country where I am able to move freely from place in place, almost without thought.
And that is the point: without thought. Often our sense of gratitude is crowded out by worries and fears, by stress and conflict and expectation. This focus on problem elements has an effect on our brain and body- adding to our sense of stress and overwhelm.
I'm not suggesting that gratitude will solve the very real stresses and demands of a busy life. But it will offer perspective, and allow us to handle challenges with a little bit more grace.