What to Do About Distracting Thoughts When Trying to Concentrate

Distracting Thoughts

It seems that most people have difficulty to focus their mind and ignore other thoughts. There are many distractions which attract the attention.

What is concentration? What does it mean to concentrate?

  • Concentration is the exclusive attention to one subject.
  • It is the ability to make one thought or action the main and only point of attention.
  • It means the ability to control your thought, choose the thoughts you want, and avoid the ones you do not want.

Nowadays, with all the information overload, Internet, social media and smartphones, people are losing their ability to control their mind and thoughts.

Just look at people everywhere, on the street, at restaurants, at home or in social gatherings. Their eyes are glued on the small screen, hardly paying attention to what is going around them.

This weakens the concentration, and when they need to focus their attention on some important task, they are unable to hold their attention on one thing more than a few seconds.

Concentration, like any other skill requires exercising and training it. This is why I have written a book about this topic, to help people improve their concentration.

A Question about Concentration

Recently, one of the website reader aske me what to do when thoughts keep distracting your focus and attention when you are trying concentrate. The questioner referred to the exercises about concentration on this website.

He wanted to know what to do when practicing a concentration exercise, when thoughts try to pull his attention to something else. He wanted to know whether to continue the exercise, or stop and start it afresh.

Here is his question:

“When practicing concentration exercise number 1, which requires the counting words in a book, I always keep on counting, and if a negative thought comes, I ignore it and keep on counting. Is it ok to do the exercise this way, or do I need to start from the beginning?”

Here is what I replied:

If you are able to ignore the distracting thoughts and keep your attention on the counting, that’s okay.

If you are not able to resist the distracting thoughts, follow them, and then after a while catch yourself thinking about something else, then, you will have to stop the exercise and start from the beginning.

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Resisting the distractions. and continuing the exercise without loss of attention is different from forgetting the exercise and thinking on something else.

Thoughts will always try to distract your attention, but if your willpower and the desire to succeed are strong, your concentration will continue, even if there are some thoughts at the background of your mind.

If your willpower, desire and attention are not strong enough, you will most probably forget to concentrate, and would become aware that your mind has drifted away, only some time later. This might be after several seconds or even several minutes.

When you lose your focus, the distracting thoughts become the main focus of your attention, and you would need to start the exercises from the beginning.

It is like working out with weights.

You strengthen your muscles when you lift the weights and practice the exercises, even if they are difficult. To strengthen your concentration you need to do the same. You need to continue, despite the difficulty and the tendency of the mind to drift away.

Continuing, and not giving up despite the attempts of the mind to distract your attention, will result in strengthening your concentration.

Concentration Definition

How to define concentration?

Definition one – The ability to fix the attention on one thought and make no room for other thoughts.

Definition two – A skill of the mind to think one thought to the exclusion of the thoughts.

Another definition is – Focusing your complete attention on what you are doing.

We can also define concentration as – Exclusive attention to one subject.

Quotes about the Importance of Concentration

“The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun. When they are concentrated, they illumine.”
– Swami Vivekananda

“Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration.”
– Willie Sutton

“Concentration is the secret of strength.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The ability to concentrate and to use time well is everything.”
– Lee Iacocca

“When every physical and mental resources is focused, one’s power to solve a problem multiplies tremendously.”
– Norman Vincent Peale

“The person that is able to concentrate utilizes all constructive thoughts and shuts out all destructive ones.”
– William W. Atkinson

Focus Your Attention
Focus Your Attention • Is your attention span too short?
• Do you wish to improve your concentration?
• A focused mind enables you to carry out everything faster, more efficiently, and with fewer mistakes.
• Learn how to focus your mind and attention!
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