Utter focus can be a beautiful thing

You’re seven years old. You’re lying on the floor, face squeezed to carpet, surrounded by hundreds of brightly coloured pieces of Lego. And right in front of your nose, on its green dimpled base, is the most incredible structure – all built by you.

Bit by bit, section by section, you’ve created this mini masterpiece, and you’re totally, utterly absorbed in it.


So much so that when you’re called to the dinner table you simply don’t hear it. You’re shutting everything else out. You’re truly ‘in’ your castle, house or rocket.

Then, like clambering out of treacle, you’re slowly conscious of your mother calling your name. She’s sounding impatient because unbeknownst to you she’s already shouted it three times. But you just didn’t hear her, so focused were you on constructing your masterpiece.

Remember that feeling? Good, wasn’t it? (The complete absorption bit, rather than the tetchy mother.)

There’s much to be said for the blissful state of complete and utter focus on something (the condition which psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi termed ‘flow’).

And bearing in mind that, sophisticated though our minds may be, we can only think about one thing at any one moment, there’s a lot to be said for being able to forget about your worries for a while at least by focusing 100% on an activity that demands every neurobeat of your consciousness.

Once upon a time you were the master of doing this.

And you know what? I think you still can be.

3 thoughts on “Utter focus can be a beautiful thing

  1. I love this. I have spent many a year convinced that flow is a way out of anxiety and depression – utter oneness as experienced as a child. Nice to be reminded again to seek it out and let it ‘flow’ (I feel a song coming on!).

  2. I love this. When I was down, I re-discovered watercolour painting. I was never any good but I concentrated so hard on trying to get the right perspective, and letting the colours flow into each other that I totally forgot how bad I had been feeling.

  3. This is so true, Jon. Takes me right back to age seven or so.
    Hobbies now, in later life, are so important as they let you do just this. And it is amazing how nice the others you share the hobby with are, then of course you are sharing a common interest, – always a good start.

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