Focus Feelings


As we tune into how we focus and how we manage our attention, we learn a great deal about what real intelligence is. It is certainly not just an IQ number. It is the application of knowledge to a challenge that requires focus and attention.

If you can’t focus and you can’t attend to a task over a period of time necessary to reach the solution, you dart from thing to thing and task to task.

What we need are validated measures of our strengths.

We think nothing of tests that tell us what’s wrong with us, but miss taking those measures that tell us who we really are. Everyone, yes everyone, takes his or her strengths for granted.

They are often the last things we learn to focus upon, yet they are the very things that will reveal our intelligence and our genius. And most importantly, the use of our real strengths, honed with attention and focus, is the core of our level of happiness and satisfaction in life.

The danger is that the only thing that begins to hold our attention is what we observe, what we watch on television or on a smartphone screen. Our attention span and focus begin to be directed by the message, rather than by our own inner ability to focus and attend to a task.

What is often overlooked is how much FOCUS is dependent upon feeling state. Our feelings are where we live, and we focus from our feeling state or in reaction to it. Regardless of how the brain functions and handles the physiological process, we are FOCUSING from feelings.

FOCUS and FEELINGS could very nearly be the same thing. Oftentimes we are so much on automatic pilot that we don’t know what we’re feeling. What are you feeling right now?

Can you tell me in words that really describe to me where you are in such a way that I could feel it with you?

You are not your feelings until you can decide which ones you want to have, and direct your FOCUS to have them.

FOCUS is a choice if we make it a choice. But always the power of that focus is largely defined by what we are feeling.

Before you label yourself ADHD, consider what you are feeling. Before you decide that you can’t focus on something, consider what you are feeling.

Mindfulness of FEELING STATES enhances FOCUS.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • James

    Did you know that a human’s attention span is less than a goldfish’s?

    That’s right, according to Nancy Koehn, of the Harvard
    Business Review, the average American attention span was 8 seconds in 2013,
    while the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. The study goes on
    to show how just 13 years earlier the average American’s attention span was 50%
    longer than in 2013. The average American’s attention span is shrinking and

    What does this mean for NeuroPositive coaches?

    In part, this is good news for NeuroPositive coaches because
    the need for what we are able to help people with appears to be growing. NeuroPositive coaches can come alongside
    individuals and guide them in strategies that enable them to train their brain
    to focus and create longer attention spans. And not only will this extend their
    focus, but a NeuroPositive coach will enable the client to focus on positive
    emotions that will further broaden and build the client’s psychological,
    emotional, and intellectual resources.
    In other words, the focus will be lengthened and intensified and it will
    be focused on the emotions that are going to benefit the client.

    Further, a person’s intelligence goes beyond simply an IQ
    score. Intelligence is developed by applying information in a focused way to an
    obstacle. So in many ways, it could be
    argued that the type of coaching that is taught by the Applied Neuroscience
    Institute actually increases an individual’s intelligence through consistent
    application of information – pulsing in the Emotional Gym and regularly
    checking in with oneself on one’s UpSpiral score. Not only are we as coaches
    increasing attention spans, we’re improving people’s intelligence.

    Wow! That’s incredibly inspiring to think about!

    Think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t you want to be apart
    of a movement that empowers other people to not only increase their focus, but
    also enables them to raise their intelligence to be able to successfully
    navigate the challenges that life sends their way?

    This is just the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of
    increasing one’s focus!

  • Dr. gloria wright

    Focus is so important. It is so easy to let our minds wander at will. Dr. Matt Killingsworth has found that there is a correlation between mind wandering and happiness. His research has found that the less mind wandering, the greater the happiness. In some ways, this means that when we are in the here-and-now, in the Flow, we are happier.
    Add to this practice of focus that we focus on our feelings. When we focus on our feelings, then the present moment, we have a better chance, through choice, to be happy. Start with focusing on gratitude, love, joy, peace and hope. Then focus on whatever task or situation is at hand. If we already see through the lens of our emotions, we need to be sure the emotions are positive. When that lens (of positive emotions) is in place, we have a much more positive perspective of whatever we are doing or dealing with.
    Focusing on our strengths is another boost to our chances of being happy and feeling good. Focusing on what is wrong with us is a hindrance and detriment to our well-being – and often a bad habit.
    Years ago when I was teaching Gifted English, to keep students from focusing on what was wrong (with their paper or themselves), I used to put a # beside the line in their writing that needed to be corrected and/or changed. I then broke them into small groups to figure out what they needed to do the get the points back. I did not use the traditional “red” ink to mark what was wrong with their papers. It was so interesting that I received several notes and or comments from my students when they went to collage that they were so much better at editing than their classmates. I honestly didn’t think of this benefit, I just refused to mark their papers with what was wrong. Instead I focused on where they could improve their writing.
    When doing workshops today, I put my attention and intention on helping people focus on their strengths. I also stress the important of making sure they are coming from a positive emotional state. And amen to Dr. Larkin’s comment, “the use of our real strengths, honed with attention and focus, is the core of our level of happiness and satisfaction in life.

  • jeris hollander

    Based on the concept of experience-dependant neuroplasticity, that which we hold in our attention has a powerful impact on the sculpting of our brain. When we practice mindfulness as a way of being, we are increasing our capacity for sharper focus through the act of paying attention to what we are feeling and experiencing moment by moment. In order to do this, we must first set our intention on being mindful of what we are feeling, both emotionally and physically through the senses. Making the effort to take notice of our current feeling state, scattered mind, splintered attention, and realizing when we have dropped into autopilot serves as a gentle reminder to bring the attention back to what we are experiencing in this moment only. This practice takes time and consistent effort, but the long term transformation that results from this way of being is truly remarkable.

    Learning to tune into our feeling states enables us to better manage our attentional focus, as well as develop a more intimate connection to our own personal strengths. This deeper understanding and application of our strengths aligns us with our true selves where we find more happiness, abundance, and prosperity. The more we focus our attention on these strengths, the less likely we are to take them for granted, resulting in being more dialed in to our ourselves as a whole, as well our true intelligence. It is then that we can more effectively attenuate negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and anger, and gently re-direct our attention to being mindful of our strengths in that moment.

    Being mindful, tuning into our feeling state, understanding and utilizing our strengths, and consciously directing our attention to where we want it to be… these are key elements to creating a more gratifying life. I am reminded of a quote from the great psychologist, William James, who wrote “The education of attention would be the education of par excellence.”

  • Sandra Lintz

    “The power of focus is largely defined by what we are feeling.” I have grown to appreciate
    this, Dr. Larkin. At first I struggled to connect feelings with focus because focus seemed to be very thought based in my mind. I noticed I could direct my focus with my thoughts. Yes. Focus on planning the weekly menu and grocery shopping. That’s easy, right? It’s not easy right now because I’m excited about writing this blog post. There is power in the feeling. I could work on the grocery list right now and maybe I should but I feel like writing this post and it’s easier to work on this post. The difference in the feelings behind working on this post vs. working on the grocery list is huge and there is power there. I can’t stay focused on the grocery list. If I wanted to stay focused on writing the grocery list I would have to change how I’m feeling. That is possible!

    Now, imagine the power available if we could stay focused on our strengths. A professional football player is on the field and in the game because of his muscle and his mind. He does not take his muscle for granted but carefully trains to improve his strength. He knows his strength and knows the game. Match up his strengths with his mind in the game and he is in the zone. His muscle memory takes him where he needs to be in a split second. We are like this with our strengths as well even if we don’t realize it. At work, I specialize in certain things and I often find myself telling others that if they don’t “get” something that’s related to my specialization, then come to me. It could take me minutes to do something they’d need to spend hours on. I do the same and call on coworkers with other expertise when I need them. Why should I spend hours on something they could do in minutes? We’re a good team!

    Here’s an easy way to focus on strengths. Recognize someone else’s strengths and give
    them positive feedback. It feels good to do it! Not only that, it helps the person focus back on their own strengths and that feels good to them. What feels good also gets focused on. It’s difficult to stay focused on something that doesn’t feel good. It’s difficult to keep thoughts on a track that doesn’t feel good. Recognizing someone’s strengths might also be telling yourself what your own strengths are due to the principle of projection. You seeing a quality in someone else that you yourself have. All of this contributes to a domino effect, a Zeno effect of increasing what we focus on. That’s the power of focus and positivity.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute