Garbage In, Garbage Out - Watch Your Information Intake
By Leo Gura - July 30, 2013 | 1 Comments
Why the quality of the information you absorb is critical for the quality of your life.
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org and I’m coming at you from Zion National Park in Utah. Check it out. Nice huh? This little river, this little stream I’m standing in has carved out this enormous canyon, smaller than the Grand Canyon but still pretty freaking large in the middle of the Colorado Plateau.
What You Put In Is What You’ll Get Out
Anyhow, the topic I want to talk today about is, information out versus information in. This is simply the idea that if you put garbage into your body, you’re going to get garbage results out. This applies both for what you put in as in terms of food and drink, but also what you put in terms of the information. What are you feeding your brain? That’s the question that I have for you.
Are you feeding your brain the nourishing type of food that it needs to then generate amazing results in your life? If you’re not doing this, this is a simple fix that you can do. You can set up some habits, put some things into place to feed your brain better source material.
For me this has been a really powerful shift that I’ve made over the last four years. I’ve really made a conscious effort to feed my brain really rich source material so that then it can put out good results. I just trust that if I feed myself good stuff that’s going to lead to a lot of good things in the long run. It’s kind of like if you’re feeding a little plant.
Let’s say you plant an acorn in the ground and you want it to grow into a big tree. There’s a lot of potential in that acorn but how it actually grows is going to be determined by the soil it’s in. Where do you plant it? How do you nourish it? Is there enough nutrients in the soil? Are you watering it enough? Is there enough foundation there to ground the roots so that it can grow into a big tree?
The same thing with your mind. Another good analogy is really with your body. If you’re feeding your body foods that are not healthy for it, you’re eating a lot of junk food, a lot of trans fats and a lot of carbs, a lot of sugars, then what you’re going to get is you’re going to get bad results for your body. You’re going to get a gut, you’re not going to have a lot of energy, you’re going to feel bad, probably going to lead to a lot of long term problems down the road, diseases, cancers etcetera. You don’t want that so that’s why you take care of your body.
Good And Bad Sources Of Information
You should also do the same with your mind. What are some good and bad sources of food for your mind? Television, generally, especially just cable TV, bad source of food for your mind. Even stuff like the news, bad source of food for your mind, because a lot of that stuff is so negative and it also has really nothing to do with you. You don’t have control over a lot of that stuff and so that’s a common drain I see with a lot of people. It’s a common drain that I had.
I used to be very much in tune with the news, always watching the news every day, watching all of the major talk show hosts, watching CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, because I wanted to keep my finger o the pulse on what was going on. I was interested in politics, watching all the election, all the pre-election coverage, doing all of that stuff. Then I got fed up with it and I just cut it out of my life. I’ve been really happy as a result because what’s happened is I’ve freed up all that time, all that mental energy to focus on creating the kind of life that I want to create for myself.
I also replaced it with much richer sources. If you think of cable TV as a bag of potato chips, the equivalent being a bag of potato chips which are not very healthy for you, or like a Snickers bar, that’s what cable TV is. That’s what watching a sitcom is. That’s what watching a reality TV show is. That’s what watching even something like CNN is.
That stuff isn’t nourishing your brain. What’s nourishing your brain is stuff like reading books, talking to people that have interesting information to share with you, having interesting discussions with friends, contemplation, meditation, spending time studying material. If you’re watching stuff, watch stuff that’s actually educational.
You can watch lectures, there’s lots of great lecture programs out there, a lot of documentaries, nature shows, that kind of stuff can be enriching although generally TV, still good idea to moderate it. If you’re reading newspapers that can also be a negative drain because the thing with news is that on the one hand you do keep your finger on the pulse and that feels kind of nice but the problem is you don’t have control over some of those things. You read about some horrible accident, some forest fire, some terrorist attack overseas, something that’s happening in the war in another country, some negotiation with some dictator, revolts overseas, all that kind of stuff, you have no say over that.
How that plays out mostly is irrelevant to you unless you’re involved with those affairs if you’re a diplomat or whatever. If you’re involved with it, I think that’s a different case and there a case can be made for you having to keep your finger on the pulse. If you’re a normal person, a layman so to speak, that is off minding his own business, doing his own thing in life and creating something for yourself, you should be focused on that rather than worrying about all these other crises that are happening in the world.
They’ve always been crises, there will always be crises. The news has a tendency of focusing on the worst of them, the most dramatic of them, the most negative of them, and if you’re always immersed in that you’re feeding your brain something that is not nourishing or it. You’re basically consuming junk food for the brain.
Watch Your Information Intake
There’s a great book that was one of the first sort of motivational self-help books that I read out there and it’s called ‘A Hundred Ways To Motivate Yourself ‘ by Steve Chandler. There one of his points was that you need to watch your information intake and I thought this is a brilliant idea. At the time is where I go this idea from.
I read that and I thought, “You know this makes a lot of sense to me. If I want to be successful in my life and I want to create the kind of awesome life that I want then I should take the time to change a few habits. It’s not that difficult. Stuff like watching TV or reading the news or following that, and replace some of those negative sources of information, or some sort of vacuous sources of information like a lot of reality TV, replace that with something educational and something nourishing.”
That’s exactly what I did. I cut out TV, I haven’t really watched TV for about four years. There were stints where I went back onto TV but mostly I cut cable, I don’t even own cable. I do like to watch movies and stuff, but I think that’s very different than watching cable.
Cable you kind of sit there and you get addicted to it. You kind of almost get zombified by it and hypnotized where you sit there and literally go through five hours of watching cable after work where you totally brain dead and you start feeling lousy about yourself. That’s the kind of stuff you really, really want to avoid. So cutting that out I think is really a good idea.
I still will watch a lot of video lectures, I still watch a lot of movies, TV shows, high quality TV shows, I still can watch those and get a lot out of them. Like a lot of HBO shows, even though they’re fictional, they’re dramas, there’s still something there, there’s human psychology there that’s at play, there’s historical facts there that are interesting. That stuff can be used to boost your own motivation. That’s stuff that can be valuable information, but I still try to limit it because ultimately the most nutritious sources of information are things like books or going to school, sitting in on a lecture, doing videos or maybe talking with somebody who’s very knowledgeable about something.
That’s a much better way to nourish yourself. Or, what I’ve been doing lately a lot, is doing more meditation and contemplation and journaling where I sit there and I really have kind of a conversation with myself about something that I’m struggling with, get a lot of clarity just by analyzing and asking myself various questions. That’s a much better way to get good quality data into your mind because your mind on some level works simply. It takes in everything that it sees around it, it takes in the environment that’s being fed to it and then it operates on that.
To Be The Best, You Need To Get The Best
What it does is there’s mechanisms in our brain that rearrange all the data that’s coming in and play around with it. If you’re feeding it bad data, there’s not that much that you can do with it to turn into something good. If you want to have an awesome life, feed yourself valuable information, feed yourself good data. What’ll happen is that kind of long term investment it’s a subtle investment.
You’re not going to immediately see a huge payoff from not watching cable anymore. You’re not going to immediately see the effects of that, but over the course of a couple of years, you’re going to notice that all of a sudden you have time to read ten, twenty more new books and those ten, twenty new books maybe one or two of those books really resonate with you and give you some insights, some concepts, some strategies that you then apply and really change your life for the better. Plus you’re not feeling as bad about yourself.
What I can tell you about this is doing is really, if you’re a cable watcher you can start by really doing a thirty day mental diet where you don’t watch any cable for thirty days straight. It’s tough. Those first few weeks are going to be really difficult and you’re going to rationalize to yourself all the reasons why cable is good for you, like the fact that it helps you unwind, it helps you relax after a long day of work and so it does have value in that regard.
At first your body is going to resist and it’s going to ask, “Well how am I supposed to relax? How am I supposed to unwind if I can’t watch cable? If I can’t plunk down on the couch and have a good time. Reading a book is not the same thing, reading a book is strenuous; you put some labor into it. Watching a lecture, that’s not interesting, that’s not fun.”
I’ve gone through this. It took me a couple of attempts to really kick cable where I would kick cable for thirty days, then I went back on it, then I kicked it, then I went back on it, but eventually I’m at this position right now, I think it’s been four years since I’ve really cut it out and done this back and forth thing that now it’s effortless for me.
I really don’t care about cable. I don’t want to watch it, I don’t want to look at it even when I’m at the gym, I don’t even want to look at the monitors there because I realized none of that stuff is making me productive, none of that is making me creative, it’s not really helping my life. That stuff is a distraction and I don’t want to be distracted by that. I’ve built up a tolerance now for reading, watching high quality material that I can find on the internet, watching lectures that I purchase from various self-help authors out there, that kind of stuff.
Find Alternatives For The Bad Sources of Information
So that is what you want to do, you want to start replacing all the sources of low grade information with sources of high quality information. Stuff that will inspire you, stuff that will empower you and you’ll notice that in the long run that’s going to be an awesome, awesome, awesome investment for you. I encourage you to start by just analyzing, what are the one, two or three sources right now in your life of low quality information. First of all identify those sources, whether it’s TV or maybe it’s hanging out with friends that are not very intelligent or don’t like to engage in intelligent conversations so that you’re just going through idle small talk, that kind of stuff, or the news that you’re reading, maybe the newspaper that you’re reading, any of that.
Identify stuff that’s distracting you, stuff that’s negative, stuff that’s causing you to worry, stuff that’s causing you to focus your attention on things that are not about you and then once you’ve identified a couple of those, find alternatives. Find an alternative for cable. Find an alternative for your friends that are not contributing to you in a meaningful way. Find an alternative to the newspaper. Do stuff that is fulfilling for you. Just like you would do that with your body, just like you would cut out junk food for your body, cut out junk food for your mind.