Mental Clarity: How to Stay Sharp and Focused

| Thinking

mental clarity feature imageHaving a clear mind is the most important asset you can own.

The opposite is mental sluggishness, which makes it difficult to handle distractions and complete goals. For some people, lack of focus makes success impossible.

Deficits in brain clarity leads them to suffering and ultimately a downward spiral in a life of nonsense.

So how can you make sure that you’re benefiting from maximum clarity each and every day of your life?

The good news is that you have many options.

Most are easy and fun.

And those that require effort are well worth the investment.

Let’s dig in!

What is Mental Clarity?

Mental clarity means different things in different contexts. There is no standard definition and we need to examine it from a few different angles to fully understand what we mean by this term.

Medicine

In health, it might mean dizziness and an inability to concentrate on simple tasks. Neurorehabilitation therapies may be useful in removing such problems.

Science, Math, Philosophy

In science, math or philosophy, mental clarity might mean sharp thinking about concepts or definitions. As Guy Robinson points out in his excellent book, Philosophy and Mystification: A Reflection on Nonsense and Clarity, it’s important to go through long periods of confusion in order to arrive at the truth. 

Robinson is right to point out that clarity around concepts of shape, symmetry and regularity are something we need to earn through study. Year after year, students encounter the difficulties of properly understanding things that seem simple with any depth, such as Euclid’s discussions of what counts as a straight line.

As we speak, companies are investing vast fortunes into finding clarity around problems such as how self-driving cars can accurately determine the shortest distance between two points on any given line.

Goal Setting

In the entrepreneurial realm, clarity comes down to setting goals based on a vision of the outcome. Theoretically, the clearer the vision, the easier it is to set the goals and chart out the milestones and benchmarks you’ll need to pass along the way.

old brown basketball board

According to Marc Galal in Positive Energy, people tend to be more successful when they start with a description of their personal position. It’s as if he was thinking about Euclidean geometry because he says that we all have “coordinates” that describe our current position. The more we know about our starting point, the more successful we can be.

Meditation and Spirituality

When it comes to personal well-being, clarity can mean the sense of connection.

This is not woo-woo. As Due Quach details in Calm Clarity, just one of thousands of books and scientific articles on the science of meditation, meditation helps us align ourselves with our core values.

When we are able to focus on what is truly important in our lives, our sense of separation and suffering fades. We can literally optimize our brains to feel fulfilled by going through a variety of mental strength and concentration meditation exercises proven to provide the needed insights.

Psychology of Performance

This relates to the notion of competence. In order to be clear about anything, we need to recognize our previous knowledge so that we can build on it. This means that mental clarity is an issue of memory at its core, something needed to effectively create “maps of meaning” in life.

In other words, a full definition of mental clarity must include meaning in it. This circles us back to medicine. If you’re feeling dizzy and unfocused and notice that health is the cause, you seek help not just to feel better. You do it because life is more meaningful and worth living when you’re well. 

Why Is Clarity Important?

Having clarity matters because each and every moment is precious.

That answer is more than enough on its own, but we also need clarity to help us make the best possible decisions. Plus, when we set goals, it matters that they are the correct goals. When our thoughts are muddled, we often make choices based on short term blindness, rather than the fullest possible view of the big picture.

cloud thoughts

Mental clarity helps us balance our logical thinking with our emotions. We’re much better equipped to think analytically.

Clarity also helps us make moral decisions. Often we suffer because we stray from our personal convictions on the basis of convenience. Having a personal philosophy is important in this regard so we don’t create unconscious guilt later.

Using clarity to make morally optimal decisions can’t be stressed enough. The errors we make tax the mind. Sometimes it’s simple things, like adding unnecessary things to our to do lists. Sometimes it’s more complex things, like how we’ve reacted in an argument. When clarity helps you avoid these errors, you can move through life with much greater freedom and ease.

Even better, having mental clarity can make it easier for you to correct course without self-punishment. And when you need to apologize, it makes it easier to do so, freeing up your mind from remorse.

How to Improve Mental Clarity: 7 Proven Strategies

As we’ve discovered, the exact definition of mental clarity ranges from health to the psychology of performance and setting goals.

When it comes to discovering how to improve mental clarity, try to cover as many of these items as possible. We need to come at the issue from multiple angles in order to maximize clarity of mind over the long term.

And that’s a key point:

Be in it for the long term. The more you explore and optimize your life so you have a clear mindset, the more you’ll benefit.

One: Nutrition

Food can be a medicine or a poison. No matter what part of you the poisonous part attacks, it will cause mental clarity issues.

happy people are eating together

Think about it:

Pain interrupts your focus. That’s part of the nature of pain. You focus on the discomfort more than anything else.

As the authors of Smart Foods for ADHD and Brain Health, mindful eating to avoid issues means:

  • Creating meal charts
  • Limiting exposure to toxins from cookware
  • Proper hydration
  • Timing meals to optimize the digestion cycle

You might think that’s going overboard, but as a writer, I can tell you that I’ve always benefited from eating at particular times. Certain foods make it difficult for me to concentrate and an entire writing session can be blown if I make poor dietary choices.

If you’re interested in seeing one of my meal charts, I shared one and details on creating one in The Victorious Mind. You can also consider eating more of these foods that improve memory.

Two: Sleep

Besides diet, few things disrupt brain functioning more than poor sleep. And, of course, sleep quality and memory are tied at the hip.

We need it because the brain eliminates waste products. Your body is literally washing away harmful molecules.

And this may be why we developed the idea of “sleeping on it” before making important decisions. When our brains are in a toxic states, they make poor decisions and cannot see things in their proper context.

black hair woman is sleeping in a white bed

Three: Dream Inquiry

A lesser known benefit of sleep comes from working with your dreams.

I’m not talking about interpreting them. Rather, I’m talking about what Robert Langs called “verbal outputs from the deep unconscious system” in Psychotherapy and Science.

The idea is that the mind creates and selects certain narratives in order to help cope with a variety of scenarios. If you start writing down your dreams and ask questions about why you’re dreaming various scenarios, this can create interesting insights.

The extent to which these insights are accurate and valid is a worthy study on its own. For help, I recommend The Dream Workbook and The Daydream Workbook.

Four: Yoga and Movement

Yoga has proven beneficial for memory and concentration across the ages.

Keeping with our theme of health, you’ll want to consider it for mental clarity in the same way you consider diet and sleep. Anything that helps you reduce pain will help you focus on the present moment.

Therein lies the rub. Any physical exercise you do could lead to injury that defeats this purpose. Make sure to select any movement based options you choose wisely and consult with a doctor.

Five: Meditation

Meditation means many things to many different people. You can do it while sitting, walking, chanting or while completing a Yoga Asana.

woman is meditating in front of a brown wall

At the end of the day, it serves as a means of releasing your attention from the outside world and focusing within, on consciousness itself.

The more you practice observing consciousness as a state, the more clarity about clarity itself should emerge. This can sound kind of strange if you haven’t experienced it, but some part of you is always maximally clear. Meditation helps you find that part and enjoy the present moment.

The present moment, finding it and holding on to it matters most for clarity because it is the one thing to which nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away. If perfection exists, it is in the now.

Six: Read with Momentum

One of my go-to strategies for maximizing clarity is to constantly read as far and wide as possible.

I’m not talking about speed reading. I’m talking about reading faster by reading within certain limitations.

When you pick a limited set of topics to focus on, you expand your understanding of them immensely. True, there’s still a place for reading randomly or following your interests on whim from time to time.

But if it’s mental clarity you’re after, you’ll want to fill out clearly defined categories by looking at them through the lenses of history, economics, politics, science, philosophy and more. No matter what you’re learning, try to find books that address each of these larger categories and you’ll find your clarity about those topics expanding rapidly.

And if you’re interested in more training around effective reading, you can signal your interest for Read with Momentum and get notified before the next cohort goes live.

pink sweater woman is reading on a sofa

Seven: Establishing Routines

The reason many people fail to optimize all of the strategies we’ve discussed is simple:

They don’t take the time to establish routines. Instead, they allow themselves to get yanked around by distractions. Or, they are so filled with sugar from poor nutrition that they’re impulsive and make poor decisions.

Having an established routine will help and it might be an important starting point for you.

It was certainly important for me because I used to lack structure and was often impulsive due to improper diet. 

But when I established routines around eating first, many things started to change. It was hard at first to even sit down and work on a schedule, but it was well worth the effort.

The Best Routine Tools

So how do you do it?

I would suggest picking one goal. Then, consider getting a simple tool, like The Freedom Journal. But any paper notebook will do.

Then, write out a daily routine that you’re going to follow for the next 90-100 days. I suggest writing it out by hand repeatedly to constantly reestablish your focus on the routine itself.

That way you will train your brain to focus specifically on routine creation. It will become a habit you can perform on demand based on the principle that planning is more important than the plan.

This principle is true because life often kicks up surprises, and the number one mental clarity skill you want is to be able to sit down and quickly come up with an alternative path.

But not just any path. One that takes into account your past competence, your goals for the future and your absolute connection with the present moment.

a path in a forest

Clarity of Mind is Not Rocket Science

We have a paradox in this world.

Simple wisdom and common sense tells us that everything on this page makes sense.

Yet, many people around the world simply won’t raise a finger to help themselves?

Why is that?

Well, we don’t know, though certainly the luck of being born in a particular family that encourages characteristics like curiosity and a hunger for learning helps.

And since you’re here, that’s you.

But there’s another principle I’ve noticed in life that I want to share. It’s a principle that helps you seize upon luck. I learned it from Dan Sullivan who calls it speed of implementation.

The idea is that every second you don’t take action after hearing about a great idea, the likelihood that you will ever take action goes down. The more you wait, the likelihood of failing to take action compounds.

The point?

If you want mental clarity, you’ve just received a set of suggestions. All you need to get started is a piece of paper, the decision to add these activities to your schedule and then show up to do them over time.

Take action now. Before you forget.

Speaking of forgetting, here’s another suggestion to seize upon:

Improve your memory. My FREE Memory Improvement Kit shows you how:

Free Memory Improvement Course

This simple course gives you structured steps that will allow you to rapidly remember anything you wish.

Memory is such an incredible skill when it comes to maximizing the clarity of thoughts you have throughout the day.

And when you have good ones, you’ll definitely want to make sure they don’t slip by.

 

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