Hello best life seekers!
Are you self-sabotaging by consuming mental junk food? “Guard well the gates of your mind” is a famous saying with iterations that occur throughout cultures and across time. In Judeo-Christian cultures, it appears in Proverbs 4:23:
“More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.”
This is exceptional advice wherever you find it. Put in life, you get life. Put in junk, you get junk. If you seek success and your best life, you want to focus on what will build and enliven you, not what will tear you down or undermine your efforts. At the base of all this is thought.
What are you mentally consuming?
Here are 5 ways to recognize mental junk food.
#1 – Traffics in fear
Switch on the news and you are bombarded by violence and the one in a million cases of death, robbery, fraud, insanity, and random acts of nature. “Experts” on podcasts, TV or radio emphasize the worst case scenario while writers and directors produce thrillers or doomsday products. Why? Ratings ratings ratings! Fear and violence sell, baby!
Most of the world and its people are peaceful every day but you’re not going to tune in for a headline that reads “7.59 Billion Humans Go About Their Business.” No, you tune in for “Clown Goes Crazy, Murders 5 in Circus Audience.”
Instead of celebrating the mostly harmonious state of the world or showing acts of everyday kindness and decency, we see the divisions and the hate that prey on our fears and elicit visceral emotional responses. Aside for raising our blood pressure, the fear response raises our cortisol levels, a chemical behind stress and anxiety and one shown to shorten life spans and impair memory.
Besides the physical harm the fear response produces, fear torpedoes any chance at the best life. If you’re too fearful about what can go wrong or what people will think, you’ll never act. You’ll never change. You’ll never find out just how amazing you can really be. You’ll just sit there wondering and miss out on the grandeur of life.
#2 – Promotes fatalism
One of the worst beliefs is that you are not the architect of your life, that you are powerless because of your race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, class, income bracket, height, attractiveness, etc.
You don’t have to look far to see headlines that reinforce this but the most insidious and most common form of this idea comes from peers, friends and family. If you hear “I can’t because…” or “You can’t because…” you are probably hearing a fatalistic rationalization.
We all have excuses for why we’re not successful, why we can’t achieve our dreams. This is not to say life can’t be challenging but study the successful, driven and happy and “I can’t because…” isn’t part of their lexicon.
When you hear people saying it’s impossible, has never been done, that you aren’t smart enough, connected enough, rich enough, lucky enough, and on and on, be careful about what ideas you are accepting. Don’t let fatalism infect you.
#3 – Encourages laziness
While fortune occasionally lands in the laps of the lucky, the self-made know better. And they know how much hard work went into their success. Study the lives of Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs. Lazy is not how you would describe them. Same for Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mohandas Ghandi.
The media bombards us with the lives of the rich and indolent or the disaffected and disengaged. The get rich schemers whisper in our ear and we watch colleagues cut corners or slack off without any seeming consequence. Half-assing it is the hallmark of those who don’t care about success or aren’t pursuing their best lives.
Is what you’re hearing and seeing encouraging you to put off what needs to be done, to do a shoddy job that will need fixing down the road, to not care because nothing’s going to change anyway? This is mental junk food and it will poison your spirit, motivation and diligence. You need all three to achieve real success and live your best life.
#4 – Scoffs at the worthy
The world loves nothing more than a hero – other than pulling them off their pedestal at the first opportunity. Look at innovative business leaders who have changed our world. People waste no time reviling them. They will lambast Steve Jobs as a micromanaging a-hole, usually via app on an iPhone.
This is not to condone a-holes but so many people rationalize their own inadequacy by pointing at the failings of the successful, ignoring the important lessons the successful have to teach us. How many people hate the rich but wouldn’t mind winning a $350 million Powerball to join the ranks of the wealthy?
Keep this in mind when you hear others scoff at the self-made or successful, who say nice guys finish last or mock the hard-working. The noble attributes of our species are the best aspects of our humanity. If you mock, scorn or denigrate them, you are tearing down what will make you great. Mock kindness and you will never have happiness. Scorn tolerance and you will never have peace. Denigrate effort and you will never have true wealth or become your best version.
When you hear scoffers and hecklers, close your ears so that the words do not poison your mind against you.
#5 – Encourages reliance on the external
How many times have we heard “go inward to find the truth” or “listen to your inner voice” or even “the Kingdom of God is within you,” and yet we look to the external to change or save us.
Jim Rohn, a great motivational speaker, once said that nothing will change unless you change, then everything changes. There are no truer words.
We look to external things, thinking a certain car, job, spouse, amount of money, security or location is a prerequisite for happiness. “I will be happy when…”
Can’t you be happy now? Can’t you feel peace now? When you close your eyes, shut out thought of the external and simply feel your inner core, for a second don’t you feel peace? You don’t need anything more than yourself.
Strength, love, peace, happiness and joy resides inside you, waiting patiently for you to look inward at them. How else could Nelson Mandela spend 27 years in prison and come out so saintly and dignified, the very persona of peace?
The outside world will tell you that you need a job, spouse, a baby, government largesse or smaller government, a certain political party in power, a certain religion, and on and on, to be happy, to find yourself.
None of that is necessary. When you stop looking outward for permission or salvation or answers, you look inward and discover there you were all along, wonderful and perfect. Once you stop looking at and critiquing your reflections and finally merge with yourself, you will know power, happiness, purpose and strength.
You’ll know what it truly means to be alive.
Boycotting Mental Junk Food
Our mind tries to tell us enough B.S. everyday without us needing to absorb the junk ideas, beliefs, distractions and opinions of others. At best, consuming mental junk food takes up time we can better spend pursuing our dreams and goals. At worst, it can chemically impact our nervous system and body, contributing to stress, depression and illness, or it can poison our motivation, belief in our abilities and efforts, and turn us away from becoming our greatest version.
The best way to boycott mental junk food and guard your mind is to actively consume ideas that enliven and grow you. Find what inspires you toward your dreams and goals, that teaches the inner way. Go inward as often as possible. That is the path of success, happiness, peace and wealth.
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