Whether we realize it or not what we take in directly affects what comes out of us. Like the old saying, you get out what you put in. We are a product of our environment and like it or not most of us will end up like our parents or directly opposite do to a sickening desire to be anything but them. Where we grew up and what we experience influences who we become. Now I am not blaming my past or upbringing for my problems, but I grew up in a household that was devastated by addiction, and regardless of the ominous warnings and early education I received I still had to experience it for myself to see that that road is definitely not for me. Maybe I would have been an addict regardless, who knows, but the point I am making is that if it weren’t for my exposure to that lifestyle maybe I would have never taken that first hit.
I realize now through my recovery how vitally important it is to control what we put in to our field of thought. Today is an age of media, where we almost spend as much time looking at a screen as we do sleeping, and if you are anything like me and don’t sleep much, even more. This thing our hands are glued to that I lovingly call the devils device tends control us. Yes, your phone calls the shots. Don’t believe me? Go out in public and look around and gauge for yourself where peoples attention really is. Better yet keep track of how often you check your phone and see if that doesn’t increase anxiety knowing that you do it as a subconscious tick just like a junkie gets a fix. Little to no thought goes into the reflex to pick up your phone. I am not afraid to admit that I am certainly guilty as charged on this. Think about it, as much time as we spend in front of a tv, computer or phone is it possible that our mind is not warped by the material we take in? No way! We are creatures of habit and this is proof of it.
So how important is it that we filter what we are taking in? Massively, in fact I can’t think of a word powerful enough to describe the magnitude of this. Pick a sad movie next time you have date night and see if you aren’t emotionally disturbed for a while. We can’t help it, when our attention is averted to something, that is where our mind goes and subsequently are thoughts stray. How often do you sit back and think about how what you watch effects our thinking? Honestly I did not consider this much until recently, but today I have the facts to back it up.
When I spend time researching and reading other authors work one of two things happen, I either get encouraged, motivated and inspired which in turn gets my mind focused on improving my own work, or I get discouraged and start believing I can never do that. Often even that will turn to encouragement and determination to work harder and make it happen. So how damaging is it to take in negativity?
It is pretty simple, if you want to laugh watch a comedy, if you want to cry read a break up story, whatever the mood or desired effect there is something to help set that mood. This applies even when we are not seeking to a certain effect. If we constantly sift through feeds that are pessimistic, hateful, racist or any kind of absurd things you tend to find on Facebook these days, you are pretty likely to start thinking that way. If you are going to be on social media, filter what you consume. I have learned to add a bunch of interesting or inspirational pages, the more you add the more they show up in your feed. Eventually you will see the percentage of uplifting compared to constant complaining starts to turn in your favor and bam all the sudden you turn something that can be seen as potentially damaging to a source of motivation. How about that! Try that news channels, oh wait you can’t because people won’t watch… What a shame. We really need to get our priorities straight.
Seriously consider what you take in. Everything has a consequence, but we have some control over what that consequence is. Instead of watching total junk, as my mother called it, watch a documentary or something educational. I love stories of people’s lives, nature programming or anything related to science. Whatever your interests are tweak your viewing experiences towards that. Even music, and I have to be careful to practice what I preach here, can majorly alter your state of mind. I can’t lie I like a lot of music that isn’t always the most positive or beneficial, I can’t help it we like what we like and I have a strong emotional connection to music, but I try to balance it out. If I listen to a hip hop record in the morning I will aim to listen to something spiritual, jazz or classical later at night. Checks and balances people, we learned this in high school. See there is something we can apply!
When we spend as much time as we do sucked into media it is so vitally important to check what we allow in. We need to keep those flood gates of negativity sealed shut or else that levee of darkness will burst and drown us in worldly clamor. All of us are capable of so much and we can truly start to see our potential when we free ourselves from distractions. How much of a difference would it make if we shave one hour of entertainment and exchange it for education? I can tell you from personal experience the effect is instantly noticeable. Honestly I probably wouldn’t have brewed the vision to begin this writing journey if it weren’t for weeding out a good majority of the maddening external noise. I challenge you for one week, spend an hour every day either completely outside of media or change your program to something uplifting, encouraging, inspirational or educational and see the reaction for yourself. And of course anything that someone says always question and challenge it, including me! Good luck.