Editor’s Note: Didact hits a homerun with this one. Go read all the articles at Didactmind. Realize that this was originally written in mid-October.
Over the past week, I have written posts that directly address a number of the problems with motivation, focus, and discipline that many readers have reported to me. In yesterday’s podcast I gave some fairly concrete advice about creating focused habits that will move you through your days to get things done quickly and efficiently.
The key here is momentum. Once you have done one thing that you do not want to do, and ABSOLUTELY DO NOT NEED TO DO, on that day, you will be in a much better and stronger position to carry on through the rest of your day.
But there is one critical element here that is missing, and I outlined this in my email to subscribers yesterday. (If you have not subscribed already, please make sure you do so through this link or via the subscription forms on the right and down below.)
That element is FOCUS. And in my experience, there is really only one truly, genuinely effective way to get it.
The Secular Ways
Before I get to that, let’s go over the ways that seem to work, but are really only temporary fixes.
Most of them involve substances of one kind or another. Nootropics are an effective and generally safe way of rewiring the brain’s neurons and synpases slightly so that you are better able to focus on any given task at hand. Back when I lived in the USA, I would regularly take nootropics capsules daily to give myself focus and wakefulness.
I have tried the
Toe Joe Rogan-affiliated supplement Alpha Brain. I also tried out Brain Force from Alex Jones’s InfoWars store back in the day when it was on sale, but I don’t think you can get it nowadays. Memotenz is another supplement that’s big on the market these days. I have never tried it – if you want to give it a try, go ahead.
Specific nootropics within this subset are considered better than others. The supplement Modafinil was heavily marketed throughout the ‘Sphere for years as a way to focus yourself and zero in on tasks and get things done. I’ve never tried it myself, but I know and respect some folks who have tried it and they report that it is effective.
You can easily get your own supplement mixes for quite low prices if you want to experiment on your own. L-theanine, for instance, is a vasodilator that counteracts the effects of caffeine, a vasoconstrictor. I do think you would probably be fine taking some L-theanine, ginko biloba, and a few other capsules to enhance wakefulness and alertness.
And there is of course good old caffeine, in the form of coffee, tea, or pills. I personally like the taste of coffee and tea. I don’t drink these for the caffeine – I’ve never really noticed any major benefits of “wakefulness” or focus coming from the stuff. It’s more about the taste for me, and I thoroughly disagree with certain folks who argue that drinking caffeine makes you a dopamine slave.
I also find it useful to listen to music when I work. Contrary to what most people think, I do not JUST listen to death metal. But I do find that listening to something with a melody to it, whether it is classical music or IRON MAIDEN or heavy metal in general or a HALO soundtrack, is useful when working.
Talking It Out
A lot of people swear that lying on a therapist’s couch and pouring out their problems to a paid clinician helps tremendously. I don’t deny that psychotherapy is effective and even necessary, at some level, to clean out psychological traumas and blockages and such. I am much less hostile toward psychology as a branch of philosophy than I used to be.
But psychology is not a science. Psychologists have no end to their scientific pretensions and inevitably end up looking astonishingly stupid when they try to play scientist. And that is because psychology is inherently incapable of being a science. It is a branch of philosophy that deals with the human brain and with emotions. These are inherently subjective and wildly variable. Pretending that a field in which up to two-thirds of clinical trials cannot be readily replicated, is therefore a science, is a joke in very poor taste.
I do not aim to dissuade you from seeking out therapy. If you have psychological trauma, then a trained and skilled therapist can help you with exercises specifically designed to confront that pain, work through it, and release it.
Failing to Address the Problem
The major issue that I have with the methods outlined above is that NONE of them get to the core of the problem of focus and effectiveness.
That problem is not, at its core, physical. It is mental – and in fact, SPIRITUAL. If you are experiencing problems right now in getting things done, it is because you are focusing on the wrong things, in the wrong ways.
Drinking coffee, taking a pill, listening to music, or talking to a therapist, will only address the physical issues of distraction – and actually, if you have real spiritual distractions around you, they won’t do a damned thing to help you.
Coffee, music, pills, and therapy will not, by themselves, fix your concentration issues if those are derived from your job, your loved ones, money worries, or a general looming sense of disquiet.
There is only ONE real, effective, and powerful answer that works, NO MATTER WHAT:
The Daily Prayer Rule
As I stated in my email to my subscribers yesterday, five minutes a day is all you need in order to focus and accomplish things. Five minutes spent in sincere, deeply personal, intensely introspective and focused prayer.
Here I will break down for you my own prayer routine. I do not claim that it is perfect. This works for me. Modify it as you see fit:
- Read the Scriptures beforehand: This is optional, but I highly recommend it. I simply flip open my ESV Bible to some random passage in the New Testament. My favourite Gospel is John, but any of the Tetrad will do. I also recommend looking through the Old Testament to see how it all fits together – especially Psalms and Ecclesiastes.
- Kneel and recite the Lord’s Prayer: This will focus your mind on the Lord, which is where your attention needs to be. There are variations of this prayer – I’m honestly not bothered about the exact wording.
- Express gratitude and thanks for the good things in your life: Ungrateful people are unpleasant people. Don’t be one of them. You are an inheritor to God’s Kingdom, to a treasure more vast and valuable than anything any Earthly King or Emperor could imagine – could there be a better reason to be grateful than this?
- Humbly repent and express penitence: You are building a personal relationship with One who has given you amazing gifts, but you have repeatedly abused His trust. In any personal relationship, admitting what you did wrong and apologising for it is key to rebuilding that trust.
- Turn to Jesus Christ and tell Him that you love Him and want His help: This, above all else, is the key to acquiring focus and strength. He died for YOU on His Cross. He sacrificed everything to help you. His hand is always there to pick you up when you fall down. Take it and let Him help you. Ask Him to intercede for you with the Father.
- Seek blessings and comfort for those who need them: Focus your mind now on those who have turned to you for help. Ask the Lord to intercede for those who you believe are afflicted with daemons and secular worries – especially your enemies and especially those who do not believe.
- Finish with a salutation to your Heavenly Father: The Lord uses broken men – like me, and you – to do what He needs to do. Understand that it is HIS will that YOU serve – not the other way around. Focus your attentions on what God wants for you, not on what you want from God – because He already KNOWS what you want and need.
If you start with reading the Scriptures, this will take quite a bit more than 5 minutes, but you can pray anytime, anywhere, without any prescribed format. You can modify that rule above as you wish.
No doubt there are Catholic and Orthodox types looking at what I’ve written in utter horror, thinking that I’ve gone off the rails for not following some sort of specific pattern. The point here is not to follow rules about prayer – the point is to seek God with all of your heart and soul, to ask for His help, and to act according to what HE wants.
I am well aware that there are secular types among my readers who have an immensely difficult time accepting the idea of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
I understand your predicament, completely. I used to be where you are. I challenge you, therefore – with kindness and deep compassion – to do the following:
- Pick up a copy of the Bible and flip over to Matthew 1;
- Say the following words – AND MEAN THEM, from your very heart: “God, if You are really out there, and if this is really Your book, and if Jesus is really Your Son, then show me through these words that You exist and that He died for me“;
- Read the whole of the New Testament, from Matthew 1 to Revelations 22, all the way through – twice;
I believe, as an article of faith, that you CANNOT get through reading the New Testament twice, if you are sincere about it, without bending the knee and declaring Jesus Christ as Lord.
And when you do – you will become a warrior for God, with all the tools that you need to fight for Truth.
The War of the Spirit
In closing, understand one thing, brothers:
We fight a war of the Spirit first and foremost. We battle and wrestle with entities that are not of flesh and blood. Only by preparing our spirits can we then prepare our minds and bodies for battle.
There is a reason why warriors pray before battle – because it focuses their minds and sharpens their will. Obey this rule of war, and there is no limit to what you will achieve.
Get on your knees, pray to the Lord, and then get on with being a man. Focus and discipline will never be a problem for you again.