What to Do About Distracting Thoughts When Trying to Concentrate

Distracting Thoughts

You are probably familiar with the following situation. You sit down to read or study but soon catch yourself thinking about other matters. You try to focus on your work, but you start daydreaming, or some bothering thoughts occupy your attention.

Most people have difficulty focusing their minds and ignoring distracting thoughts. We all face many distractions that attract our attention when we try to focus.

Nowadays, with all the information overload, Internet, social media, and smartphones, people are losing their ability to control their minds 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 concentration, and when they need to focus on some important task, they cannot hold their attention on one thing for more than a few seconds.

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 thoughts, choose the thoughts you want, and avoid the ones you do not want.

Concentration, like any other skill, requires exercising and training. 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 readers asked me what to do when thoughts keep distracting his focus and attention when he is trying to concentrate. The questioner referred to the exercises about concentration on this website.

He wanted to know what to do when practicing a concentration exercise and 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.

The Reader’s Question About Concentration

“When practicing concentration exercise number 1, which requires 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 okay to do the exercise this way, or do I need to start from the beginning?”

My Answer to the Question About Concentration

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

If you cannot resist the distracting thoughts and follow them, and then you become aware that you are thinking about something else, you will need to stop the exercise and start from the beginning.

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 probably forget to concentrate and 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.

Training the Concentration 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 mind’s difficulty and tendency 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

What is concentration? How do you 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 – The ability to focus your complete attention on what you are doing.

We can also define concentration as – Exclusive attention to one subject, action, or thought.

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 resource 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

You might like reading more quotes about concentration.

Focus Your Attention

Learn How to Focus Your Attention
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