Ode to the Concentrated Mind

Let’s say your forehead is 10 mm by 100 mm. That’s 1,000 mm². Each square millimeter is an exit point for your thoughts on a particular subject. If you daydream about ice cream, that thought exits through square #37. If you mull over an email response to a friend, that’s gate #109. Each thought is a tiny burst of light, so depending on what you think about, different “pixels” on your forehead will flicker and start glowing. 

When your mind is all over the place, your forehead lights up in various colors. It looks like a disco floor, but the overall glow is faint. You’re dedicating single thoughts to many different topics. This makes your mind hard to read. Others can’t identify what’s important to you. Worse, however, it means you’re not making progress. You’re not zoned in on what matters. There’s a steady, shallow amount of energy being emitted, but it doesn’t go very far because it’s spread too thin.

Now imagine you’re focused on a single project — writing a book, finishing a document, or shipping a course. All your thoughts leave through a single gateway. What happens to rays of light when you bundle them? They turn into a beam! Suddenly, square #555 lights up in bright red. All the other pixels go dark. Everyone can see where you’re headed, and your bright, singular LED illuminates the path in front of you. 

As you get into a flow state, each thought about your destination begets another thought in the same direction. It’s a self-reinforcing reaction — the marvelous chemistry of focus. If you can keep the loop feeding on itself long enough, your emissions of mental energy won’t just be bundled, they’ll become coherent. Creative sparks will fly from your brain, each one adding more spectral power to your unique purpose, your sole objective. Coherence is how light turns into a laser, and those can travel very far. An everyday laser pointer can mark a target up to one kilometer away, even in complete darkness. It draws on its own mechanism for stimulation — and so does the concentrated mind.

A concentrated mind penetrates an indifferent universe to create its own reality. It relentlessly moves forward until the goal has been achieved.

A concentrated mind burns distractions like a sunlit magnifying glass incinerates grass. It feeds them to the steam engine of progress, each one another coal in the fire, another sacrifice to keep the flames of creativity alive.

A concentrated mind is not afraid of missing out. It understands the compounding rewards of boredom and frustration. It tolerates them as necessities — until they pay off and become, in time, their very own form of compensation.

A concentrated mind is unbound by clock and calendar. It eats when it’s hungry, moves when it’s eager, and sleeps when it’s tired. It does not conform to the world’s agenda nor bow to the crowdsourced to-do list we call our email inbox. The concentrated mind goes at its own pace. Therefore, it is always in the right place at the right time.

A concentrated mind is calm, quiet, and patient. It resists each next impulse, choosing emptiness over empty activity. When the terror of silence subsides, it makes way for serenity. Both come and go in waves, and the concentrated mind abides.

A concentrated mind is all-in on making, not marketing. It knows that great work spreads on its own accord. The concentrated mind trusts that once its contributions are so irresistibly useful, entertaining, or inspiring that people can’t help themselves but share, the world will pass them around in an everlasting cycle. Therefore, the concentrated mind aims the full force of its laser at its creations — and finds solace in this soleness of focus.

A concentrated mind turns any experience into its own fuel. It draws energy from the positive — but not all of it. It rations happy memories so it can rely on them in times of need. The concentrated mind persists, but more importantly, it perseveres. It uses acceptance, resilience, and resolve to sculpt the negative into a stepping stone — perhaps not the most stable of stairs, but at least one that won’t give way beneath its feet. This way, the concentrated mind can always keep walking.

A concentrated mind is content, for the letters of the latter are a natural subset of the former. It is always failing or succeeding on the path towards its most important goal, but either way, the walking — the working — is enough — because the good days will always be good, and the bad days will always mean something if they lie on the road to something meaningful.

Here’s to the concentrated mind. It is the source of progress, connection, and fulfillment. May your forehead shine brightly as it announces your aspirations to the world. May your every thought flow into the unbreakable laser beam set on sharing, igniting, realizing the light of your good intentions from which it emanates. May your flow stay focused, your creativity coherent, and your consciousness keep calm. May any experience add rather than subtract, until your mere existence illuminates the night sky like the sun driving out the dark. May you find the ultimate, gentle, self-sustaining power available to the human species. May you become a concentrated mind.