There are certain questions to be settled, a definite length of time in which to settle them. In the order of their importance they are allotted so many minutes. At the expiration of that time a vote is taken, the president or chairman announces his decision, and the next matter is attacked.
_There is no royal method of training in concentration. It is in the main developed by repeated acts of attention upon the subject in hand_.
If I am anxious or need to develop the power of concentration upon what people say, either in conversation or in public discourse, I may be helped by persistently and continuously forcing myself to attend. The habit of concentration may to a degree be thus acquired;
pursuing it, I should never allow myself to listen indifferently, but I must force myself to strict attention.
Such practice would result ultimately in a habit of concentration upon what I hear, but would not necessarily increase my power of concentration upon writing, adding, or other activities. Specific training in each is essential, and even then the results will be far short of what might be desired. Persistent effort in any direction is not without result, however, and any increase in concentration is so valuable that it is worth the effort it costs. If a man lacks power of concentration in any particular direction, he should force concentration in that line and continue till a habit results.
Our control over our muscles and movements far exceeds our direct control over our attention. An attitude of concentration is possible, even when the desired mental process is not present. Thus by fixing my eyes on a page and keeping them adjusted for reading, even when my mind is on a subject far removed, I can help my will to secure concentration. I
can likewise restrain myself from picking up a newspaper or from chatting with a friend when it is the time for concentrated action on my work. By continuously resisting movements which tend to distract and by holding myself in the position of attention, the strain upon my will in forcing concentration becomes less.
_Concentration is practically impossible when the brain is fagged or the bodily condition is far below the normal in any respect_.
The connection between the body and the mind is most intimate, and the perfect working of the body is necessary to the highest efficiency of the mind. The power of concentration is accordingly affected by surroundings in the hours of labor, by sleep and recreation, by the quality and quantity of food, and by every condition which affects the bodily processes favorably.
Recognition of this truth is behind the very general movement, both here and abroad, to provide the best possible conditions both in the factories and the home environment of workers. Employers are coming more and more to un-
derstand that conservation of physical forces means maximum output. The foundation, of course, is a clean, spacious, well-lighted, and perfectly ventilated factory in a situation which affords pure air and accessibility to the homes of employees. In England and Germany the advance towards this ideal has taken form in the ``garden cities'' of which the plant is the nucleus and the support. In America there is no lack of industrial towns planned and built as carefully as the works to which they are tributary.
Some have added various ``welfare'' features, ranging from hot luncheons served at cost, free baths, and medical attendance to night schools for employees to teach them how to live and work to better advantage. The profit comes back in the increased efficiency of the employees.
_Even though the health be perfect and the attitude of attention be sustained the will is unable to retain concentration by an effort for more than a few seconds at a time_.
When the mind is concentrated upon an
object, this object must develop and prove interesting, otherwise there will be required every few seconds the same tug of the will. This concentration by voluntary attention is essential, but cannot be permanent.