Lately I’ve been noticing how much I’m affected by what I listen to, what I see, or the conversations I’m having. It’s like that old saying, “you are what you eat,” or maybe the newer one, “you are the are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The information and habits I’m surrounded with make a huge impact on how I spend my time or what I’m interested in.
In some ways, this tendency is hilariously embarrassing. I’ll watch a week of interior design videos and suddenly be rearranging and tweaking my house. I’ll watch some personal finance videos and suddenly be looking for ways to be more frugal. I’ll hear my friend talking about their points rewards card and suddenly be researching what credit card I should sign up for, for hours.
But it’s also pretty freeing! Knowing this about myself means that I can make smarter decisions about what kinds of content I consume. I can surround myself with photos and videos and people who reflect my own personal values. I can unfollow people who are negative, or upsetting, or just have different goals from me. I can notice how I feel after watching something: do I feel uplifted and inspired, or do I feel deflated and depressed? I can remember that I have so much power over what I let in to my brain.
Sarah Von Bargen talked about this when I interviewed her on my podcast. Five minutes into reading a “fancy lady magazine”, she felt terrible about herself, and stopped reading. She realized that those magazines are designed to make you feel terrible, so that you buy things that will fix the problem. You can read them, or you can just walk away. Why eat the thing you’re allergic to?
For me, this realization is a healthy tool. I can choose my goals first, and then surround myself with information and ideas that will naturally motivate me to achieve them. Easy as pie!
PS. I wrote about this from a slightly different angle right here!