Focused When Actually Not Focused

Source: Focused

In our modern society today, focus, like control, seems to be a norm that is overvalued. I think focus is one of the most stressful word because the more I think of it, the more I cannot focus. The more I try to take control, the more I lose control. Although focus and control are two different things, they are nonetheless not always mutually exclusive. To focus, after all, and to be able to hold that focus, requires a tremendous amount of control to oneself. We associate focus with success  while the lack of it with failure. In order to be successful in life and to be the best in whatever we do, all we need to do is to focus to our goals in lives. If we are distracted from it, then we are doom to fail. In other words, focus has acquired this unproblematized and uninterrogated positive value. It is an ideal of our modern society to which we must pursue.

I find it quite difficult to focus. While I was writing my research project, I was not able to focus writing unlike some of my classmates. Some of my class mates would even brag in a pretense of complaining that they have not slept for a day or two because they were so focused with their writing. I, on the other hand, could not even hold my focus for an hour or at least the whole hour that I sit behind my desk is not always all work. I usually get distracted by many things around me and by many thoughts. When I try hard to focus, the more I could not write. As such, I felt that I was failing and unable to uphold to the ideals of a good student. Paraphrasing Nietzsche, When I  stare (reads focus) to a blank document on my screen for long enough, the blank document on the screen stares back at me.

However, there is a psychiatrist and a brain researcher from Harvard University named Srini Pillay who postulates that we need to change the way we think of focus. Indeed focus is very important in order for us to do and finish our task – that he acknowledge. At the same time, he also demonstrates that creative ideas come to the fore when we are not focused to our task, say, while doing something else. Our brains are more effective and more creative when we are not trying hard too much. I quite agree with Pillay. How many times have you experienced that you forgot a word, a name of someone or something? The word or the name is at the tip of your tongue but you cannot retrieve it at that very moment you are trying so hard. It is very irritating right? Then, when we started diverting our focus to something else we then remember the things we have forgotten.

Sometimes, when I write and try too hard to focus, I find it quite difficult to articulate my ideas because perhaps my ideas are still vague. Ideas come to the fore and words take form precisely when I am not sitting behind my desk doing something else, say, running, walking, showering, cleaning the house, etc.. Ironically speaking, we might be focusing more when we do not focus.