My house is under renovation and my TV hasn’t been plugged in for three weeks. I haven’t even noticed or thought about it. Even before this, I was never a big TV watcher. For years I’ve relied on the internet and social media for entertainment and information purposes, and I’ve even cut back on that. It wasn’t always like this though. Nickelodeon practically raised me and then MTV was my BFF in high school. I got my bachelor’s in US Weekly.
But after a while I realized these things weren’t adding any value to my life and I slowly started to wean myself off them. I felt like I was crowding my brain with junk and I needed some breathing room. Now, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little mindless entertainment. One of my guilty pleasures is horror movies–both the genuinely creepy and over-the-top cheesy kinds. But I prefer “easy watching” to not take up the majority of my downtime. Or worse, to take precedence over my to do list.
The idea of going on a media diet is not a new one. It’s all about input. We should fill our minds with things that enrich it, not clog it. Being a passive sponge of all the ads and garbage that society throws at us makes us basic. Intelligent, effective people don’t want to talk about the latest reality TV show. They do not give a fuck about what the Kardashians are doing. I know this concept might ruffle a few feathers, so I will repeat that it’s okay to enjoy a few junky/mindless things. Sometimes we need to zone out. But it should be like dessert–something you enjoy occasionally, not the bulk of your nutrition.
The goal is to limit the amount of TV you watch or your time on social media to do more productive things, whether it’s reading a book, doing something creative, working on a personal project or side hustle, WORKING OUT 😉 and so on.
Here are some tips to get you started on your brain diet.
- Question. Ask yourself if the recreational thing you’re doing is really giving you any value. So many times I’ve caught myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, barely even reading any posts. I realized that besides not contributing anything to my life, it wasn’t even ENJOYABLE. Why am I even doing this? I’d ask myself.
- Unfollow. Do you follow anyone who makes you feel bad? Maybe you compare yourself to them or maybe their posts annoy you*. Unfollow them. You won’t regret it. You won’t even remember them.
- Cut. Jim Rohn said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. The same can be said about what we watch/read. We are greatly influenced by our environment, and that includes the media we consume. Start cutting out things that don’t add value.
- Add. A good way to curate what you follow is by adding in things that TEACH you something. It could be current events or a skill. Never stop learning; it’s like working out for your brain. A tier below this would be quality entertainment. Yes, entertainment can have value when it’s well produced. A good story exposes us to creativity, good writing, good acting, etc. And those things are especially important if you’re a writer or storyteller yourself. Beyond that, stories (movies, TV shows, podcasts) give us the feels, and sometimes we just need to be able to relate to something. This might seem conflicting with everything else I’ve said. But the important thing, IMO, is to enjoy the thing without spending so much time in an imaginary world that you neglect your own reality.
- Expand. Get lateral with your interests. Check out something that you may have never had a curiosity about.
Following a brain diet is very similar to going on a regular diet. We take out the junk and add in nutrition. The result is a healthier, stronger version of ourselves.
*I think there’s something to be said for following people who have different views than our own. While it can be aggravating, it also exposes us to a reality that’s bigger than our own narrow view.