Can you focus your mind?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.


Photo courtesy of

You can shift the focus of your eyes but what about your thoughts?

Mind Focus

Mind Focus
Photo courtesy of Flickr (gwilmore)

In old-school photography, every student had to learn selective focus. The goal was to keep one thing in clear focus while letting the other things in the scene blur out and become ambiguous.

If you had a person close to you, then you wanted their face clear and the things behind them, the background, to blur out. If you took a picture through a fence the goal was to get the things far away clear and the fence to blur until it disappeared.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could shift the focus on our minds just like that camera?

Well, some people can do just that.

Often when we interact with others our minds go all over the place. We think about the room temperature and lighting, what we will do after this meeting, what we did yesterday.

We can be overwhelmed and the result is that we lose the ability to pay clear attention to the thing we are doing or the person who we are speaking with.

When we try to relax our minds can become troubled with that swarm of thoughts buzzing around in our head. Things to do, people to call, emails to answer. Did you pay that bill? Should you check Facebook or Twitter first?

Seeing everything at once can result in seeing nothing as your life flows by lost in the jumble of thoughts.

One skill they teach in “mindfulness” training is how to shift that focus of your thinking, how to pay attention to the things you want to attend to and let the rest go. This is a valuable skill to have. The ability to attend to one thing and let the other things blur out is not something we are all born with but a skill that can be developed.

I realize that this selective attention or mindfulness can be more difficult for people with certain disorders like ADHD, but with the constant flow of information overload, all of us are at risk of losing our mental focus if we do not learn to attend to one thing out of a swarm of thoughts in our heads.

Do you sometimes feel like a traffic cop trying to direct thousands of unruly thoughts traveling within your head?

This age we live in has more information available than ever before. There are constantly things to do and distractions everywhere. The thoughts, feelings, and sensations run back and forth in our minds.

Do you run after each and every thought like a school worker trying to corral a group of unruly children?

Sometimes it is nice to just observe the thoughts as they run through our minds, let them go and shift our focus from all that is going on outside us to what is going on inside yourself.

Learning to shift your mind’s focus, attuned to one important idea at a time can reduce your stress and improve your creativity and productivity.

Give that shift of mind focus a try and see if it does not bring a whole lot of things into sharper focus.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

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