Inspired to Change

Book Review: Stolen Focus by Johann Hari



Stolen Focus Book Review by Carmen Harrington


What is this book about?

This important book explains why we have lost the ability to focus and concentrate. How do we get that focus back and learn how to pay attention in a world with so many distractions? This is an action which seems to be an elusive concept for so many people as we rush about our daily lives.

Johann talks a lot about social media and the persistent drip of notifications to keep us scrolling. He analyses how our modern diet and our polluted environment deprive us of the necessary nutrients we need to focus. He also made sense to me in his explanation of why more and more children are sadly struggling to focus and are becoming increasingly angry and distressed.

Many British workers think of success as being exhausted, constantly busy and doing everything with increased speed and many people feel guilty about slowing down so we have lost the ability to focus on one thing and do that one thing well. In our modern lives there is a multitude of factors impeding our focus, very rarely is it just one thing.

How has this book informed my thinking?

As someone whose brain flits about and struggles to maintain focus, this book really appealed as a potential ‘self-help’ book. Even writing this I’m struggling to sit and focus and not be tempted to just quickly look up something on social media or make a cup of tea. I see many clients who wrestle with focus as their brains are being tempted by the next shiny distraction and brain fog.

(Get in touch with one of our Inspired to Change team to find out how solution-focused hypnotherapy can help you to clear brain fog and improve your focus.)

This book reinforces many things I already knew from being a hypnotherapist, and ideas I had learnt through my research and study into how the brain works. Still, it was good to hear them expressed from Johann’s different perspective. It can help to see things more clearly when you listen to ideas discussed with such clarity. In my opinion, much of this knowledge really does need to be in the mainstream as nearly everyone can benefit from understanding how we can pay better attention to our lives and surroundings.

How does this book link with well-being and solution-focused ideas?

Much of the book agreed with the solution-focused principles I practice, such as explaining how lack of sleep affects the brain because we’re unable to remember properly. Consequently, we can’t transfer the things we’ve learnt during the day into our long-term memory. He also mentions how coffee and sleep tablets can disrupt important sleep patterns, leaving our bodies thinking they’re in a state of emergency, which has a knock-on effect on our mental health.

When our mind is darting about there is no opportunity for the brain to slow down to allow all the connections in the brain to come together. Our thinking becomes superficial so we’re not allowing it to come up with new thoughts, innovation, or the ability to be creative. Solution-focused hypnotherapy enables you to relax so you have access to the prefrontal cortex which is part of the brain which enables you to work out the best course of action for you. If it’s too busy trying to filter out all those things you’re being distracted by, it can become quickly exhausted making it even harder to concentrate.

My greatest takeaways

I particularly enjoyed the section about multitasking and the explanation of the fact there’s actually no such thing. Instead, we juggle things back and forth and our brain needs to reconfigure each time we switch between tasks. So, for example, if you check each text or email you receive immediately you aren’t just losing those little bursts of time, you’re also losing extra time having to refocus on the task you were trying to complete before the interruption. This means our thinking can become superficial as we’re thinking about how to backtrack and reengage with the initial task we were trying to complete.

Being focused can help us do important things in our lives, giving us more fulfilment and meaning instead of frittering away our time looking at our phones (which are always with us, so they can be an easy distraction).

Why I would recommend this book

I would thoroughly recommend Stolen Focus, especially for all the insightful nuggets of information and practical suggestions and guidance.

Johann Hari also gives lots of practical advice throughout the book on changing your behaviour so you can focus and pay attention to those things that matter. I won’t repeat the advice here as I think you should read it yourself and work out what applies best to your situation. However, I have started monotasking and now know how best to stop my distractions.

About the Author: Carmen Harrington practices from her therapy room in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. As someone who has struggled with confidence and anxiety in the past, she knows how positive and lifechanging hypnotherapy can be. Carmen’s specialties include: Anxiety, Confidence, Addictions, Teenagers, and Phobias.

If you’d like to find out how hypnotherapy could help you to reduce stress and improve your focus, get in touch with one of our Inspired to Change hypnotherapists and book your FREE initial consultation.

Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.

To find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist click here for our hypnotherapy school information.