What you feed your mind, matters.
We all know our bodies need certain things, nutritionally. We need the right amount of calories, neither too few nor too many over time. We need vitamins. We need hydration. Without the right kind of nutrition, our bodies begin to break down. They become a source of pain. They become expensive to heal and maintain. These corporeal vehicles that are supposed to get us around and be a source of pleasure and efficacy become prisons, if we don’t pay attention to them and treat them well.
The same is true of our minds.
Our minds are our primary tools of survival, even more so than our bodies.
Our ability to think and reason is what allows us to make the decisions that create our lives. Our minds allow us the ability to connect and form the relationships we need to thrive. We may be able to physically live without our active, conscious minds for awhile— but there is no way we can truly create satisfying, purposeful lives without paying attention to and taking care of our minds.
Our minds need the right kind of “nutrition,” just like our bodies do.
What is the “nutrition” to your mind? What you read. What you watch. What you focus on. What you imagine.
Every day, we have the opportunity to either feed our minds psychological “junk food,” or to feed it quality nutrients that it needs to function well.
Mind you, I love junk food. It’s tasty and fun. I have a whole blog where my buddy and I reviewed many of the pizza places in and around Chicago. Junk food, itself, is no more a problem than, say, smartphones, themselves, are. Both junk food and smartphones are tools, that can be either used or misused.
Of what possible use can junk food be? It can be a diversion. A break. It can be a point of connection and comfort. If kept in its proper role and perspective, junk food can be used to enhance our lives.
But that doesn’t mean you should try to live off of junk food.
For that matter, you probably shouldn’t have junk food every day.
What is psychological junk food that we should not try to live off of? It’s content that is only valuable because it entertains or diverts or amuses. Which, again, has its place. We can use psychological “junk food,” like tabloid news, deeply partisan political blogs, or content that primarily focuses on sardonic or sarcastic responses to life, as opportunities to take a break, divert our attention, spend some satisfying time in an echo chamber.
I’m not anti-junk food.
We need nutritional value in our mental diets.
We need content that will push and support us in expanding the realm of the possible for our lives.
We need to expose ourselves to books, articles, movies, shows, and blogs that will make us think, really think, as opposed to content that only makes us nod our head in emphatic agreement of what we already believe.
We need to expose ourselves to people who inspire us as role models. (This is HUGE, actually— research suggests our brains are INCREDIBLY sensitive to role modeling, more so than most of us would ever believe.)
Understand, that while our conscious minds can only focus on a little sliver of information at any one time, our unconscious minds are constantly taking in and chewing on the things we read and watch. Our brains are processing all the time. Even if we think we’re not thinking about the things we’ve read and watched, we certainly are— which is why we need to “feed” our minds things that are “nutritious” for the mind to chew on.
Just like it’s pretty much impossible to expect your body to function well if you’re not feeding and caring for it properly, it’s virtually impossible to get high-quality results from a mind that is being fed a diet of nihilistic humor and incendiary political content hour after hour after hour on social media.
Be smart about what you “feed” your brain.
Keep running lists of content that helps you feel inspired. Uplifted. Motivated. Collect articles about and pictures of people who you look up to, whose lives and teachings fuel your mission. Always remember the old rule of “garbage in, garbage out.”
Managing your mental “diet” is free and uncomplicated. All it really takes is a willingness to maintain a reasonably high level of awareness of what your brain is being exposed to— and a willingness to keep “junk food” in its proper role.
Your self-esteem will notice if you’re taking care of your primary means of survival— that beautiful mind of yours.
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