Six Minute Read
Mind Your Mental Diet
We are what we eat is a famous saying we’ve all heard over and over again. What if we should also add the observation that “Our minds our made of what we listen to and see”? Food is both the fuel and the building blocks of our bodies and our brains. We deplete our resiliency and longevity by eating the foods that aren’t nourishing while missing out on the opportunity to strengthen ourselves by eating foods that contain what our bodies and brains thrive on. The exact process happens when we consume media.
When we consume healthy foods our physical processes work more efficiently. Our bodies have the resources it needs to better fend off injury and illness. When I consume good food I feel better. When I make a point to consume positive images, thoughts and ideas I do as well. By making a point to mentally consume life affirming growth oriented and interesting ideas delivered in entertaining ways by people of good will, I’m better able to turn even obstacles I encounter into opportunities.
I’m a huge proponent of ancestral eating. But I sometimes stray from the paleo path and when I do I feel lousy both physically and mentally. The times I do get off the straight and narrow, I can look back and find that I’ve not been reading books about or listening to podcasts explaining the benefits of primal eating. By not inoculating myself with these positive sources of information I become more susceptable to the subtle and not so subtle influences around me. Part of the reason for this is, that I like every other average American, am exposed to about 4000 advertisements per day. That number includes everything from internet ads, to billboards, store fronts and government propaganda
There is a reason that your email is free and there is a reason Facebook doesn’t charge you. It is because Ads work. Companies and the government pay them to put messages in front of you in hope of changing how you think. We all want to believe that our behavior isn’t affected by these ads but they are. Our minds take in a lot of information from ads each day that after repeated exposures begins to deeply seep into our decision making processes. It’s like mindlessly eating snacks while watching tv. Before you know it the bag of potato chips are gone and you were not even aware you were eating. Or it’s like when we don’t control what we are being served to eat when we go to someone’s home for dinner. We consume ads in a similar way. We accept what we are given or we mindlessly consume information without considering or even being aware of the consequences.
But there is hope of course. Like any diet we first need to know what is wrong with our current way of eating and make adjustments. One of the biggest steps for me is that on a regular basis I clear out my “mental food fridge”. I get rid of all the junk that is not helping me to enjoy life more fully. I eliminate or greatly limit all the sources of media that I go to in order to get that quick dopamine fix, or that I indulge in when I’m procrastinating or just because I’ve made a habit of watching. These sources of negative mental foods include twitter posts and youtube video rants about gloom and doom. I’ve spent hours going down the rabbit holes of conspiracy and the always imminent collapse of civilization. This doesn’t mean I don’t indulge now and again on both. I’m fascinated and curious about large social patterns and past cataclysms and do believe that a major event could be possible again.
In order to have a ready supply of positive nourishing mental food at hand to offset the occasional indulgences, I seek out positive sources of information which don’t ignore reality but illuminate the human condition in order to help individuals improve their lives. For me the Joe Rogan Podcast is my biggest mental food staple and has been for years. He explores the ideas that help humans live better and he does so in a funny, intellectual and empathetic way. On The JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE he’s had everyone from Neil Degrasse Tyson to Steve-o. Nutrition, fitness, mental toughness, comedy, overcoming adversity, scientific discoveries, becoming a better human being are all themes he explores. The conversations are always deeper than what you’ll find with most other places because he spends between two to three hours with them. When I consume most JRE podcasts I feel better. My mood is lifted, I’m motivated to take actions to improve my life and I have something positive to share with others.
This is another amazing part of a Nourishing Mental Diet. You get to can share these ideas and information with others without losing their benefits. This is different than food that you eat. You actually increase your positive mental state when you share these nourishing bits of positiveness. On the other hand if you share negative information you are now feeding that person negative mental food. I heard someone say once “Don’t dump your mental garbage into my mind.” When we share positive information, emotions and energy we are becoming a source of nourishing mental food for others and reducing the amount of mental garbage in the world.
We all have a choice each day on what we choose to consume, whether it’s physical food or mental food. These choices create a trail of complicated consequences that can last a lifetime. Even if the effects aren’t felt immediately they can add up and make a huge difference in what we think, how we perceive the world, how we emotionally feel and how we interact with others. Our body and our mind to a large extent are both the product of what we consume. We can be filled with junk food and negative media that creates an inflamed mind and body or we can ingest the positive nourishing food and ideas that makes us feel better and which enable us to create the body and world that we want to live in.