Our mind is often as jam packed as city traffic

What Are You Making Place For?

Martine Cloutier-LeBlanc
6 min readApr 14, 2022


A month ago or so, I came across someone I had never heard of before, a Canadian writer and author named Chris Bailey. As I dug more into his work on productivity and attention, I read something that spoke volume to me, “The state of our attention is what determines the state of our lives.”

I want you to let that sink in for a minute. “The state of our attention is what determines the state of our lives.” I don’t know for you, but for me, it makes a lot of sense.

The first thing that comes to mind when I repeat Mr. Bailey’s quote is a traffic jam metaphor. I used to live in Montreal, Canada and boy that traffic was heavy. But, what was even more of an intense experience was the LA traffic I had the opportunity to get myself acquainted with a few months ago, lol.

Apologies for my traffic deviation, back to the quote and it’s meaning to me.

Most people’s attention is totally packed and overstimulated. I know you’ve heard about our phone and news addictions, but through this article, I will explore another avenue — another way of seeing this jam packed low attention of ours. But more importantly, I am going to discuss ways I personally chose to use to decrease my mental traffic and increase my attention level.

It may not be magical solutions, but it can sure help you see clearer and allow you to have more meaningful and enthusiastic days. Because let’s face it, WHO likes to be depressed, anxious, nor have no vitality to do what they truly want to do?

Definitely not me, and I know if you’ve been following me and liking my work, you are not one of those people either.

What’s causing your mental traffic?

Remember, I said I will not talk about cell phones nor news addictions, but I will definitely address people’s negative thoughts and emotions.

What I know is when people experience or encounter “gloomy days”, it weighs on them. For some, it is something that last for days and weeks. Imagine, no relief whatsoever — constantly being reminded of what went wrong or how things are always getting worse and worse. As if, they would be in that LA or Montreal traffic for days at the time, no way out, congestion after congestion. One can only imagine the stress that this simple image can cause to someone who is already having a challenging time to see things positively.

And then, when one thinks they will eventually get a “break”, boom, someone else is hitting the rear of their vehicle. Someone else who has never really learned how to handle their own situations comes knocking — hoping for their own personal relief.

But how can you even attempt to help them, when your mind (and heart) is full of worries, regrets, and overwhelmed?

You’re NOT able to. And that is a HARD truth. You may attempt to the best of your ability to find the proper words or do the right gestures, but at the end of the day, you’re too drained. You have NOTHING else to give because your mind has been monopolized by YOUR traffic jam.

Your productivity has decreased. Your mood has changed and that is not a compliment. Your love for life has diminished. And who knows what else you may be experiencing.

What you are going through is NOT fun. Actually, it is quite painful. But call me “dreamy” or “too optimistic” if you want, but I see your mental traffic jam has a STOP sign or a HELP sign — a genuine way to tell yourself “ENOUGH is ENOUGH, I have to change my ways otherwise this traffic jam is going to get the best of me.”

Two ways to move this mental traffic out of your mind

Way #1

I’ve been using this technique for more then 10 years now, no joke. One day, I chose to tell myself I would NEVER have another bad day again. I mentioned, I know I will have funny days, challenging days, what the heck days, crazy days, and so forth, but I will personally NO LONGER say to myself or to anyone who is asking me how is or was my day that I am having a bad day. And believe it or not, to this day, I have not had a bad day because I chose, more than 10 years ago, to change my vocabulary.

Telling ourselves we’re having a bad day only makes our prophesy becomes reality. And believe me, you don’t want to give that type of power to your mind because it is going to go all out with it and next thing you know — every day is now a bad day.

It seems super simple right to tell yourself you won’t have another bad day again. Well, it kind of is. It’s a choice, a mental choice. Just like when you’re in traffic, you can tell yourself how this whole freaking traffic sucks and makes you angry or you can use this time to smile and think about things that uplift you and motivate you.

The CHOICE is yours — and yours ONLY.

Way #2

Start your day with a positive word. A word that empowers you and that you know will follow you throughout the rest of your day. Personally, I choose three words, every morning that I write in my journal. Why three? Because three is my favorite number, lol.

The fact that your mind is focusing on selecting ONE positive word will then allow you to come out of bed with more genuine intention toward your day. It is going to help you see another side of yourself — your creative side.

When you’ll start this one word search, don’t make it hard for yourself. Keep it simple. Whatever positive word that comes to mind is the one you write, say out loud, or think of in that moment. Then, let your day start.

Trust, they will be time, you’ll want to repeat that word hundred times a day because things are just not going your way, and because you chose to NOT have a bad day anymore, well, that new word of yours will come very handy in times of need.

Go ahead, attempt it right now. What positive word comes to mind?

Happy, Excited, Serene, Vitality, Appreciative, Good, Understanding, Curious, Energized, Life?

What’s YOUR positive word today?

A 3rd way, but caution please

What if, when your mental traffic is being overstimulated and all the negative energy comes knocking at your mind’s door, you stop yourself for a second, breath and ask yourself is what you’re thinking right now the worse possible thing? Your answer will more than likely be NO its not. And because it is not, you can then have a second of mental peace.

But I must warn you with this one, if you are someone who tends to worry a little more easily than others, this may not be the best option for you and let me tell you why.

Since you answered it is not the worse possible thing, your mind may go — all out on attempting to figure out what is then the worse possible scenario. And if it goes that way, you’re about to go down a spiral that you don’t want get yourself involve in.

So, just make sure, if you choose to use the “it’s not the worse thing that can happen” method that your mind is in a better place and that you’re more calm and poised. And as soon as you don’t feel as such, back away from this one and find yourself another tactic.

In conclusion, Chris Bailey really won with his quote because he summarized in ONE sentence the life of so many people — “The state of our attention is what determines the state of our lives.”

When our attention is minimal, our lives’ decisions also reflect this reality. We’re not happy nor joyful. We’re dreading everything and see life as gloomy as it can be.

But when you choose to do things a little bit differently. One small change at the time, then that traffic jam seems to clear up a bit. When a conscious effort is made and you honestly tell yourself you NO LONGER going to have bad days, a whole new world opens up for you. Remember, you’ll still have funny days, challenging days, what the heck days, crazy days, and so forth, but you will no longer be in that constant mode of “bad, bad, bad”. And that, automatically level up the “state” of your life.



Martine Cloutier-LeBlanc

Founder and CEO of CAPTIVATE MY DAY, loving life to its fullest