To concentrate is to focus our attention. With knowledge being doubled every 18 months, what should we be concentrating our attention on? How about what is true and admirable? When our thoughts are concentrated on these things we act like these things. When our thoughts are focused on the yuck and the negative in life so too will our heart, mind, body, and soul be. Listening to positive music, reading great stories, speaking kind words, and finding the best in people – these things provoke joy, compassion, and peace in our lives. Just like feeding our bodies healthy foods, healthy thoughts nourish our hearts and minds. A concentration on these things improves our well-being and guides us toward happiness and achievement. Concentrating is a mindful choice to focus and center ourselves on what is right and good.
Habituating healthy thoughts will habituate a healthy life. Generally, smart people don’t react to life; they make a conscious decision to think smart. It is an intellectual character trait that can be nurtured in children. Here are a few ideas:
- Heart – ask your child to concentrate on the sounds within nature. Listen intently for the various sounds of animals and plants.
- Mind – examine the stories that you and your child are reading and talk about the traits of their favorite characters and why they like them.
- Body – provide concentrated practice in an effort to improve a physical skill. Throwing a ball, following a dance step, shooting baskets, etc., are basic concentration habits. It takes hundreds of attempts to get good at such a task.
- Soul – ask your child to listen to a piece of music and to identify the various instruments being played.
“Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a DESTINY.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Saint Paul
“What do I mean by concentration? I mean focusing totally on the business at hand and commanding your body to do exactly what you want it to do.” – Arnold Palmer
Truth, beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Truthiness and Twitter, by Howard Gardner