Quotes on Focus
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All In Your Mind
Virtue and Vice

58. Focus
"The dissipation of thought of which you complain, is nothing more than the vacillation of a mind suspended between different motives, and changing its direction as any motive gains or loses strength. If you can kindle in your mind any strong desire, if you can but keep predominant any wish for some particular excellence or attainment, the gusts of imagination will break away, without any effect upon your conduct, and commonly without any traces left upon the memory."
Boswell: Life

61. Diligence; Focus
"Resolve, and keep your resolution; choose, and pursue your choice. If you spend this day in study, you will find yourself still more able to study to-morrow; not that you are to expect that you shall all at once obtain a complete victory. Depravity is not very easily overcome. Resolution will sometimes relax, and diligence will sometimes be interrupted; but let no accidental surprise or deviation, whether short or long, dispose you to despondency."
Boswell: Life

390. Focus
"Nothing is difficult, when gain and honour unite their influence."
Johnson: Thoughts on the Late Transactions Respecting Falkland's Islands

493. Focus; Madness
"There is no man whose imagination does not sometimes predominate over his reason, who can regulate his attention wholly by his will, and whose ideas will come and go at his command. No man will be found in whose mind airy motions do not sometimes tyrannize, and force him to hope or fear beyond the limits of sober probability."
Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.

588. Fear; Focus
"It is ... not unworthy of remark that, in proportion as our cares are employed on the future, they are abstracted from the present, from the only time which we can call our own, and of which, if we neglect the apparent duties, to make provision against visionary attacks, we shall certainly counteract our own purpose; for he, doubtless, mistakes his true interest, who thinks that he can increase his safety when he impairs his virtue."
Johnson: Rambler #29 (June 26, 1750)

831. Excellence; Focus
"Those ... who attain any excellence commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms."
Johnson: Pope (Lives of the Poets)

975. Attention; Focus
"It is certain that, with or without our consent, many of the few moments allotted us will slide imperceptibly away, and that the mind will break from confinement to its stated task, into sudden excursions. Severe and connected attention is preserved but for a short time; and when a man shuts himself up in his closet, and bends his thoughts to the discussion of any abstruse question, he will find his faculties continually stealing away to more pleasing entertainments. He often perceives himself transported, he knows not how, to distant tracts of thought, and returns to his first object as from a dream, without knowing when he forsook it, or how long he has been abstracted from it."
Johnson: Rambler #89 (January 22, 1751)

976. Attention; Focus; Perseverance
"It ... frequently happens that the most recluse are not the most vigorous prosecutors of study. Many impose upon the world, and many upon themselves, by an appearance of severe and exemplary diligence, when they, in reality, give themselves up to the luxury of fancy, please their minds with regulating the past or planning out the future, place themselves at will in varied situations of happiness, and slumber away their days in voluntary visions. In the journey of life, some are left behind because they are naturally feeble and slow, some because they miss the way, and many because they leave it by choice, and, instead of pressing onward with a steady pace, delight themselves with momentary deviations, turn aside to pluck every flower, and repose in every shade."
Johnson: Rambler #89 (January 22, 1751)

1,140. Career Choice; Curiosity; Focus; Perspective
"Even of those who have dedicated themselves to knowledge, the far greater part have confined their curiosity to a few objects, and have very little inclination to promote any fame but that of which their own studies entitle them to partake. The naturalist has no desire to know the opinions or conjectures of the philosopher; the botanist looks upon the astronomer as a being unworthy of his regard; the lawyer scarcely hears the name of a physician without contempt; and he that is growing great and happy by electrifying a bottle, wonders how the world can be engaged by trifling prattle about war or peace."
Johnson: Rambler #118 (May 4, 1751)

1,182. Choice; Focus
"There is no temper more unpropitious to interest than desultory application and unlimited inquiry, by which the desires are held in a perpetual equipoise, and the mind fluctuates between different purposes without determination."
Johnson: Rambler #132 (June 22, 1751)

1,192. Choice; Focus
"He to whom many objects of pursuit arise at the same time, will frequently hesitate between different desires till a rival has precluded him, or change his course as new attractions prevail, and harass himself without advancing."
Johnson: Rambler #134 (June 29, 1751)

1,463. Focus; Implementation; Perseverance
"They whose activity of imagination is often shifting the scenes of expectation, are frequently subject to such sallies of caprice as make all their actions fortuitous, destroy the value of their friendship, obstruct the efficacy of their virtues, and set them below the meanest of those who persist in their resolutions, execute what they design, and perform what they have promised."
Johnson: Rambler #201 (February 18, 1752)

1,477. Focus
"The eye of the mind, like that of the body, can only extend its view to new objects, by losing sight of those which are now before it."
Johnson: Rambler #203 (February 25, 1752)

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