Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

The Brilliant Gifts of Hyper Focus and Positivity

(This post was inspired by an email I received from a young lady who was attacked angrily on a forum because she talked about hyper focus. The other person claimed it doesn’t exist.)

I love to hyper focus and I do it on a regular basis, I’ve written many blog posts about it, I wrote extensively about it in my first book One Boy’s Struggle: A Memoir and, I have additionally written an eBook about it in an effort to help others discover ways to hyper focus at will. However, although hyper focus is a well known ADHD trait, not everyone with ADHD can hyper focus easily, sometimes rarely and some seemingly not at all.

I tend to believe everyone has been lost in focus at one point or another, forgetting to eat, missing a turn or, just realizing by looking up at the clock that whoa, so much time has passed and passed, and passed. Feedback from One Boy’s Struggle and my eBook 8 Steps how to Super Focus at Will has given me valuable insight into others experiences with hyper focus. Gathering from feedback, my eBook has helped people learn how to Super Focus on things they want to focus on – interestingly, not just people with ADHD, but also those folks we like to call ‘normal’.

However, regrettably, there does indeed seem to be an effort lately to refute the existence of our ability to hyper focus. As I mentioned, I have written about hyper focus many times, numerous readers have posted about their experiences with it on my blog and our ADDer World ADHD Social Network. I can find thousands of entries for “Hyper Focus” searching via Google – Furthermore, ADDitude Magazine has run articles about hyper focus, one of those articles is by me “How I Harnessed the Power of Hyper Focus” and another is by Dr. Edward Hallowell, and another by John Ratey and many, many others. Most of these people writing about hyper focus have ADHD; obviously they have experienced it first hand with good and well, not so good experience – the ability to hyper focus clearly can be a double edged sword.

It is bewildering to me that anyone would want us to believe hyper focus doesn’t exist. I rate it close to the level of saying ADHD doesn’t exist, the concepts are quite similar when I think about it. This is about the experiences of a large group of people being denied by others; even if you have never hyper focused, take in the ramifications of being denied the existence of something you experience regardless of the name you give it.

Many of us that have experienced hyper focus, we describe our experiences in amazingly similar fashion, quite detailed in fact, and those experiences are discounted because others can’t relate or repeat the process themselves? That seems somehow wrong to me. I don’t know where or how this latest movement to deny a well known ADHD trait started, but it is disheartening. However, just like ADHD, simply because there are people who do not believe it exists, doesn’t mean that it does not exist.

It’s a shame that we have come so far and there are still so many who will deny what others have lived with for so long. Isn’t it? Today is a better day for people with ADHD because it has been researched so much; however, it didn’t start out that way. It started out as something people were experiencing.

It seems, at least to me, that there is a larger issue at play here. Hyper focus is probably the most obvious ADHD trait that can potentially be used positively. For a while now there has been an effort to remove any positivity that could possibly be associated with ADHD in any way shape or form. Of course, this is my opinion, but if you read enough on the World Wide Web it’s rather easy to find. I first discovered it when I started getting emails and comments a few years back asking me if there was any ‘scientific’ evidence that positivity works, basically using science as a defense against positivity (Yes, I almost wrote the dark arts). Really though, does there need to be? Positivity helps us all, with or without ADHD. Does science need to prove everything? …Fine.

Positivity is a mindset; it’s also emotional and affects us on nearly every level.  Positivity is something we can learn in personal therapy or on our own. I highly recommend therapy for us ADDers. Professional therapy may help us to learn how to focus on our strengths, reframe our negative beliefs and develop a healthy positive perspective. Furthermore, professional therapy may help us resolve feelings, emotions and beliefs about ourselves and our past. Therapy has been profound in my case and has helped me resolve many issues I was dealing with, above all, shame. These are things medication cannot do. I have written about my experiences with therapy in great detail through-out my blog, if you would like to read them.

In any event, there is now scientific research that proves positivity works. Positivity may have previously been just what people had experienced, called by many different names, but now we have scientific research to back it up. Let’s go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to visit the world-renowned and highly respected Barbara L. Fredrickson Ph.D. Barbara has written a wonderful book about her scientific research that proves positivity works. Barbara’s book is titled, you guessed it: “POSITIVITY” Daniel Gilbert says this about Positivity: “Read one or two chapters as needed or until grumpiness subsides.”

On the back of Barbara’s book it says “World-renowned researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson gives you the lab-tested tools necessary to create a healthier, more vibrant, and flourishing life through the process she calls “The upward spiral.” – With Positivity you’ll learn to see new possibilities, bounce back from setbacks, connect with others, and become the best version of yourself.”

Clearly Barbara’s book sounds useful to me, it’s a plus that it is based on scientific research. I am going to hyper focus, over focus and, SUPER FOCUS on finishing it. So far though, I can tell you that Barbara’s book is a wonderful testament to the power of positivity and it couldn’t come at a better time. Now I have learned that as it turns out, positive thinking can actually be quantified by scientific methods in the lab and in real life. I love the way the world turns.

In the meantime here are some links to reviews of Positivity for you:

  • Positivity  – Book Review The mechanisms of how and why this works are well explained in the book and are compelling. Anyone who has had an impression that spending time working on increasing positive emotions is self-indulgent will have their mind changed by reading about this theory and the supporting research.
  • (Book Review) Positivity  It provides the evidence required of scientific study, and it also clearly outlines a practical and meaningful way forward for those interested in the best of life for ourselves and others.  Just as Fredrickson suggests, positivity helps us learn to see new possibilities, bounce back from setbacks, connect with others, and become the best version of ourselves.
  • And here’s another useful link to test your own positivity level, from Barbara Fredrickson’s website: Positivity Ratio – Self Test Give it a shot. My score was lower than I thought it would be, so I have got some work to do! My score was 2.1, I want to get it to the recommended 3.1 ratio and hopefully that will be reflected in my future blog posts. Interesting that science says I am not yet positive enough, isn’t it? I’m getting there. What about you? Aim for the stars.