Oh, no. It’s Brother Joe Somebody. He’s the next speaker in Sacrament and his talks are always the longest and most boring. What’s his topic? Oh no! He’s talking about giving talks. Why does he sound like the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” It’s at this point that I start to fidget.
You may not be like me. You may identify more with this teaching from Elder Donald A. Halstrom: “If we come to be entertained, we often will be disappointed. President Spencer W. Kimball was once asked, ‘What do you do when you find yourself in a boring Sacrament meeting?’ His response: ‘I don’t know. I’ve never been in one.’”
I honestly try to be more like President Kimball, but sometimes I nod off. Sometimes I start staring at the beautiful wallpaper and the geometrically interesting ceilings. There are times when I get lost in the designs of the carpet. In my attempts to focus more during Sacrament meeting, I’ve created the following list of Fidget Hacks. May they help you, as they’ve helped me.
The Fidget Hacks
1. Chew Gum
We’ve all heard about chewing gum in school (especially tests) to stay awake. In Sacrament meetings, the goal isn’t just to stay awake but to focus. It may be obvious why chewing gum might help you stay awake. It may not be as clear as to whether it actually helps you focus.
Using the all-knowing internet, I found some research that suggests it actually does help you concentrate. As far as I found though, scientists don’t actually know why. There are various theories out there. I also found different articles that claim that the benefits of chewing gum don’t last long, so use it wisely.
With this fidget hack, I would just try it and see what works for you. You’ll probably have to try different methods of gum chewing (sugar-free, three pieces, half a piece, etc.). Once you find the right application, gum can become your number one fidget hack to help you stay focused.
Before you go out and buy your pack of Big Chew, I have a message from all of the congregations in the world: PLEASE CHEW WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED! There is nothing *SMACK* more distracting *SMACK* than hearing *SMACK SMACK* someone *SMACK* chewing a piece *SMACK* of gum very loudly. Please, just close your mouth and enjoy your personal piece of chewy goodness, in silence.
And never get up to sing or speak with gum in your mouth.
A simple hack for staying awake and focused in Sacrament meeting? Drink water. Pack in a bottle of water and nurse it throughout the meeting. You might feel like a “bro” who just came back from the gym, working on those “gains”, but that’s ok. Water is an excellent, cheap way to stay awake and focused.
It’s cheap, but it’s also very beneficial to your overall health. According to my research, water, among other things, helps improve weight regulation, improves mood, flushes out toxins, improves skin complexion, boosts the immune system, and more. We are made up of around %70 water, so drinking it has to be good.
Along with its physical benefits, drinking water might even inspire you to think more about the Living Water, otherwise known as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can find allegories, parables, and metaphors everywhere. Why not in our own water bottles? Not to mention, water goes great with those Cheerios you smuggled past the door greeter.
3. Gospel Buzzword Bingo
I first heard about this in my finance class at BYU. I took it from Jim Brau, a retired Army Ranger, converted to the Church and one of the most spiritual, and charismatic people I’ve ever come across. Brother Brau has many sayings that are repeated almost every lecture. I can’t count the number of times he’s told us “don’t freak out.” It was Finance 201 so he had a lot of opportunities to tell us not to freak out.
One of his students had made a bingo sheet and filled it in with some of his quirky sayings. Well, I made one for Sacrament meeting. I tried to fill it with all of the quirky things Mormons do over the pulpit. It ranges from making fun of the bishopric to speaking endlessly about a recent vacation.
If you want to print out my Gospel Buzzword Bingo Sheet go ahead. I hope you have fun doing it. Print it out, and then when one of the speakers says or does something on the sheet, cross it off. If you have better ideas for spaces to fill, let me know in the comments below.
For this hack, all you need is something. Next step: play with that something in your hands. I usually have a pen in my pocket and often I’ll pull it out and pull it apart and then put it back together and do that over and over again. You might play with some jewelry, Velcro, or another good option is a paper clip. A lot of people are getting fidget toys. These could be a good option.
Though some people don’t believe it, fidgeting actually works. It helps you stay focused on your task. Some scientists posit the theory that our brains have a natural ability to adapt to stimulus. When our brains adapt to the monotone speaker standing at the pulpit, our attention drifts to that fly that keeps landing on the bald head in front of us. Fidgeting makes it so our brains don’t adapt to the speaker’s voice. Thus we stay focused.
Another message from the world: Please, please, please DO NOT DISTRACT OTHER PEOPLE! I know fidget spinners are cool and if you have one you seem like a more interesting person. The truth is, they, and things like them, can be extremely distracting. They’ve become more toy and less focus-hack. If you’re gonna focus, focus on the Spirit of the meeting and not your toys.
5. Take a Break
Sometimes, especially when it is a sunny Sunday, you just want to be outside moving and enjoying the weather. If that’s the case, then get up and take a walk to get a drink or just stand in the foyer. Most meetinghouses in America are blessed to have speakers in the halls that project the speaker’s voice beyond the chapel. If you need to fidget, then get up and take a walk.
Being on your feet has some interesting benefits. Besides helping you not fidget, walking can help you be more creative, and standing boosts concentration. Taking your toddler for a walk might help you get more out of the talk than you thought (don’t quote me, I’ve never had kids). Just get up and move. Whatever helps you feel the Spirit and receive revelation.
Again, here we find another interesting Gospel metaphor. The Lord wants us to wear the armor of God with our feet “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” (Ephesians 6:15). I take this to mean, at least in part, that we should be ready to move to preach the peace of the Gospel. To me, that means standing. Let us all, metaphorically at least, be standing, ready to move to do the Will of God.
This last tip is probably the most radical. If we want to focus during a long Sacrament meeting, then we need to care. Maybe I’m being a little facetious, but maybe I’m not. All I’m saying is that we all could probably care a little bit more. We might put forth more effort during the week to get ready for Sunday. We might all actually pray for the Spirit to teach us while we are at church.
Another thing that can help us care more might be to take notes during Sacrament. The benefits of writing revelation down are amazing. First of all, we remember it. Second, of all, we can refer to it. The list goes on. What might happen if we were to improve our revelation receiving abilities? Maybe we’d all progress and be able to witness more miracles in our lives? Might be nice.
In my own experience, when we really care, the meeting won’t be long or boring. None of us are perfect though, and luckily the Lord will help us have amazing experiences, even when we aren’t at the top of our game.
This post might seem satirical and sarcastic but underneath the snark is a sincere plea to all of us to be more seriously engaged. I know that I often struggle to pay attention to every sentence in Sacrament. The point is that we might all be able to gain a little more out of our weekly worship service, especially from the Sacrament itself. I for one, am going to try harder to focus. Hopefully one of these tips can help you to do the same.
Please join the conversation below and let me know what you thought.