There’s a growing awareness about the importance of the food we consume, diets, calorie intake and its impact on our body.
However, the diet that gets very little attention yet essential for our happiness, well being and growth is our mental diet.
Your mental diet can make all the difference between leading an extraordinary existence over an average one.
But what exactly do I mean by “mental diet”?
I am talking about the kind of content you are letting your mind chew on whether that maybe movies, TV shows, videos, books, news, social media etc.
Being intentional with your content consumption will put you amongst the minority. While some are particular about the kind of food they consume, few are selective when it comes to the kind of content they consume.
Now I guess it would be safe to assume that it’s in everybody’s highest interest to be happy and experience peace of mind. But when it comes to our content consumption, we may often make choices that don’t reflect our highest interest.
Therefore In this blog post, I'd like to talk about how to align your mental diet to suit your highest interest so that it can serve you beneficially instead of limit you.
Why be selective about what you consume?
We spend a large amount of time in our daily lives, consuming some kind of information or the other. Information overload is a problem that is faced by many of us today.
While content/data keeps on exponentially increasing, the time you have in your day doesn’t. Therefore being conscious and selective about what you consume, can help you to use more of your time and energy on things that make a positive impact in your life.
Exposing yourself to everything that comes your way can have various downsides such as mental clutter and developing limiting beliefs, to list a few.
What you feed your mind is especially important because our schools hardly teach anything about being happy, successful, having peace of mind, creating wealth though these are things all of us desire. (Surprising when you think that many of us spend close to 20 years in the education system consuming information)
It’s good to contemplate some of the main sources from which we consume content.
When it comes to social media, it helps to get clear on your purpose for being on the platform because it can tend to be addictive and consume too much of our time needlessly.
If your main reason is to keep in touch with people, I am sure you will agree that there are better ways of keeping in touch with someone than following their newsfeed on Facebook or Instagram.
Some of the common problems excessive social media usage can have on us are cluttering up our mind with information we don’t need and make it difficult to find the motivation for more important activities.
Here are a few questions worth pondering over to gain clarity about the impact social media has on your life
How does being on social media make you feel?
How does it add value to your life or make it better?
Is it affecting or eating into the time you spend with the people around you or on more important tasks?
Is it making you compare your life with others and making you feel bad about yourself?
Is it subconsciously influencing you to compete with others in anyway?
Now the answers to these questions will naturally tend to differ from people to people.
TV Shows and Movies
Everything that we watch on our screens, whether it is a movie or TV show can have a powerful impact on our consciousness for better or worse.
Watching TV shows and movies puts you in an altered state of consciousness similar to that of hypnosis. Now that may sound odd, but studies show within minutes of watching a movie or a TV show, our brain enters into an alpha state and transfers into your right brain.
In this state, your logical reasoning is suspended to a large degree, and your subconscious mind is highly impressionable. Tests by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that while viewers were watching TV, right-brain activity outnumbered left-brain activity by a ratio of two to one.
Due to the hypnotic-like trance we enter into while watching movies and TV shows, they have a tremendous ability to shape the way we think and the beliefs we hold.
One of the most popular TV shows in recent times Game of Thrones contains graphic depictions of violence throughout the whole series.
Now one could argue that it’s just a TV show and none of it is real. But that’s not how your subconscious mind interprets the information. The body doesn’t differentiate between imagined or real, it simply responds.
Now what may surprise you is that watching violent scenes can increase your blood pressure, heart rate and put you in a stressed out fight or flight mode. But this may not be apparent because it happens below the level of your conscious awareness in your subconscious mind.
On the bright side, viewing positive imagery can have beneficial and positive effects on our body’s chemistry.
Therefore it’s important to exercise a certain amount of selectivity when it comes to TV shows and movies.
Following the news excessively can be likened to eating junk food regularly. It may satisfy your hunger or craving, but it provides you with little to no nutrients.
The news tends to be overwhelmingly negative, biased, fear-mongering, sensationalised and even fake. The notion that it can make us informed of what is happening in the
world is naive – which is essentially the reason why most consume the news.
Consuming too much of news can programme our minds with fear and develop false perspectives about the world at large.
Psychologists say that following the news can even increase our personal worries that are not even related to the content of the news story. Moreover, fearful news also puts our body in a stressed out fight or flight mode and releases the stress hormone cortisol. This deregulates our immune system and can cause increased susceptibility to infections.
When it comes to the importance of news, this quote by Steve Pavlina sums it up perfectly,
How much of today’s news will you remember next year? Can you even remember last month’s news? Your brain discards the news because it’s trivial; what you internalise is the fear-based conditioning.
Here are a few actionable steps you can take when it comes managing your consumption of the news
Put off your consumption of the news at least for 2 hours after you wake up (waking up to the news is a detrimental and disempowering way to start your day).
Limit your news intake to just once per day, schedule a specific amount of time and aim to stick to it
Let go of consuming negative and fearful news (It may give you something to talk about but it's just not worth it).
Turn off all notifications from news platforms on mobile/ PC
Books & Documentaries
Reading books and watching documentaries are certainly not the most popular forms of consuming content in the 21st century, but I feel they are some of the best sources to gain valuable knowledge for our overall well-being and growth.
Books can have a life-changing impact, and I can say that with certainty because it’s changed mine for the better.
It’s no surprise that reading books are among the most common habits that are practised by billionaires. From Elon Musk, Warren Buffet to Oprah Winfrey all of them attribute reading to playing a significant role in their success.
There are seemingly endless amounts of books focussed on personal growth that provides positive and inspiring content that can help us to live better and more fulfilling lives.
In books and documentaries, you will come across information you would never find in mainstream media because they are often funded and backed by governments and big corporations. Therefore the flow of information in mainstream media on a wide variety of subjects is either suppressed or highly regulated.
You are highly unlikely to hear about the extent of massive corruption and disturbing practices of Big pharma and food companies which endangers its consumers. Now that’s not because it doesn’t exist, in fact there are numerous books and documentaries by whistleblowers and doctors which provide substantial evidences on these matters. But that’s just an example.
While they can bring some disturbing facts to the surface, in the long run, it can help us make more empowering decisions and adopt more positive life choices.
Thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, documentaries are experiencing wider reach and viewership over the past few years.
Even The Secret which popularised the concept of the Law of Attraction to the masses, was first released as a documentary in 2004 before it was released as a book couple of years later and it continues to hit the best sellers list to this day.
Both (Books & Docs) are great because unlike most other mediums they force us to look inwards and think more deeply and live more meaningful lives in the process.
For a long time, experts in the west were of the opinion that diet didn’t have any role to play in the cause of chronic diseases. Now it’s common knowledge that diet plays a significant role.
In the same manner, it would be unwise to assume that what we watch and hear doesn’t have a significant role in influencing our thinking, shaping our belief systems and consequently how our life pans out.
Start becoming aware of how you spend your time consuming information and slowly let go of spending time in areas which are not serving you beneficially. Identify what makes a positive impact in your life and devote more time to those areas.
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