Trying to focus on one… ooh a shiny thing…
Musings, problems, thoughts, troubles, trials… No, these are not merely a string of random words. They are words which were considered for the title of this piece.
This, it could be said, is a product, in itself, of the ‘grasshopper mind’.
What is a Grasshopper Mind?
A grasshopper is a small insect of the order orthoptera, suborder caelifera. They are related to crickets and katydids. They spend their days hopping about and minding their own business.
As grasshoppers are known for their jumping and seemingly sudden movements in random directions, it seems an appropriate metaphor for someone who is unable to focus.
A grasshopper mind means that a person may ‘jump’ from subject to subject in an entirely unpredictable way. Their focus of attention does not remain in one place for very long.
Do You Have a Grasshopper Mind?
Do you ever get that feeling that you want to be doing twenty other things while you’re already busy with twenty more?
Do you ever read something interesting but never get to the end because you’re off on a tangent at every other paragraph, with an incessant and insatiable need for more information about this character or that piece of history?
If your answer is ‘yes’ then you too may well be the owner of a grasshopper mind.
Is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
The best answer to this would be ‘both or neither’. If it is essential to focus on one thing, flitting from one random thought to another may not be ideal for the situation. However, changing subjects regularly means unlikelihood of becoming bored, usually learning a lot of things (albeit little bits about a lot of things as opposed to in-depth knowledge of one or two subjects).
People with grasshopper minds can find it difficult to concentrate. This is not usually a good thing. On the other hand, taking a break from one task and occupying oneself with another can be advantageous at times.
A surgeon performing an operation really needs to concentrate on the job in hand without becoming distracted. A writer, though, may do well to have a wide selection of ideas and distractions in order to come up with new thoughts.
Of course, a surgeon, for example, may well have a grasshopper mind because it does not necessarily mean a total inability to focus. It can mean that a mind wanders when unoccupied or when not occupied by a particular focus or specialism.
Can a Grasshopper Mind Be Controlled or Overcome?
Some people can control their level of distraction. Sometimes all it takes is to find a single thing of special interest. Even the least focused person is often able to obsess about something they love.
A grasshopper mind can also be used to advantage. It promotes creativity and lateral thinking, a chance to come up with ideas which, with a linear thought process, might be overlooked.
As with anything else, some people will find it easier than others to concentrate on one thing or to control their urge to veer off on tangents.