Every top athlete understands the benefits of getting their thoughts under control. World Champions often describe good concentration as one fo the most important skills for a world class performer.
Attention control is defined by the American sport psychologist, Dr. Robert Singer as “an individual’s readiness in a particular situation to selectively perceive and process information”. When you display a high level of control over your attention, it is the same as having excellent powers of concentration.
The state of your attention reflects your brain activity. If your attention is fragmented on to many things and places, then your brain activity is also scattered throughout your brain. We all know the feeling of forgetting what you were saying or not knowing where you left your keys. If you sustain your attention for long enough on one thing, your brain will reflect that, reducing activity in brain areas not related to the object of your focus and activating the brain areas that are related to it.
When you direct your thoughts or attention to a given perception, you are activating specific areas of your brain. Repetition causes the neural network which controls the specific ability to grow in number and connections will get stronger and more efficient and precise. It expands and develops in maturity and capability. The mental patterns, which you use the most during your lifetime, get more and more ingrained, habitual and fixed as you get older. In the terms of brain and mind activity, you become more of the same. When you use your mind rigorously, the brain grows new dendrites. It may be hard to change new behaviors because you may have to make physical changes in your brain as your neurons and tendons grow. Challenges, problems to solve, exercise, etc. have the effect of forcing the brain to form more connections between brain cells, more tendons, enabling it to function at a higher level of performance.
When you improve concentration beyond a certain point, you gain enough control over your attention to be able to do almost whatever you want with your attention and your mind. Whatever that goal is that you choose to focus on, when you selectively focus on what’s important to you, it can separate success from the ones who only thought about it from time to time. Maximizing your ability to focus on the important details will lead you to better performance. What do you choose to pay attention to today? Control your attention and you control your mind.
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