File this one under ‘things I know but constantly need to re-learn’: you are what you eat. Cognitively speaking, this includes what you consume, read, hear, surround yourself with, watch, discuss, absorb.
Do you know what’s really easy? Putting on an episode of [insert your favourite random show here – mine lately has been The Mindy Project] on Netflix while I’m cooking, leaving it on while I’m eating, and then letting it play the next episode while I just sit still, passively watching another episode or two.
What feels disproportionately much harder is choosing to read a real book while I’m eating, or listening to an audiobook while I’m cooking. Ugh! Words? Ideas? I just want to veg out and not think, okay?!
Okay, but the outcome of not thinking is…not thinking. The result of consuming lots of ‘just for fun’ stuff is that I have less to contribute to conversations with my coolest, most interesting friends. I have less to ponder and try to implement in my life. I stop feeling like I’m living in an atmosphere of growth (which is where it’s at, yo!) and start feeling like my days all look exactly the same.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s comforting to have routines, and TV can easily turn into something to look forward to, but I have to constantly remind myself that it’s not worth the bang I get for my happiness buck.
Last week on her show, Jess Lively discussed how the words we use can affect our energy, mood, and overall state. Since then I’ve caught myself saying things like “it’s killing me” when all I really meant was “I have to watch my spending a bit more than usual”, or “I did a bunch of sh*t this morning,” when the underlying truth was “I did work that I love and that I am so incredibly grateful to have.” I honestly can’t explain why I use these kinds of words or expressions when they are so different from what I really feel.
I think it’s all part of the same loop: garbage in, garbage out; garbage out, garbage in. Mindful consumption leads to mindful creation, and vice-versa.
I’ve been trying to make some guidelines for myself, in order to fill my brain up with more interesting ideas and perspectives. Some examples:
- while eating, only read books
- while getting ready, watch an inspiring interview on Youtube
- while walking, listen to thoughtful podcasts
- don’t let Netflix autoplay
- stay off of things that scroll endlessly
I say ‘guidelines’ because I don’t follow any of the above 100% of the time – stopping that Netflix autoplay seems to require superhuman effort, and almost daily I find myself seven minutes deep in a Facebook scroll. Besides, there is absolutely a time and place to escape into a light, funny show or vent to a friend about something upsetting.
It’s just that for me, that time and place is not for four hours every single day. I know that watching TV more than I read, write, or create makes me feel kind of blah and bland. I know that complaining usually gives me more to complain about by pointing my lens at everything that’s not working rather than what is awesome.
On the flip side, feeding myself with inspiration makes my world a more exciting and energizing place. Ideas can light me up. Passionate conversations are what make me feel alive. Learning and growing are my secret to happiness.
Who do you turn to for new ideas and inspiration? Please tell me! I am always excited to find a new thought leader.
Ps. My faves are Tony Robbins, Cheryl Strayed, Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, Liz Gilbert, and Brené Brown.