I’ve tried a couple of times already to write about something that’s been on my mind. The idea of having a new information lifestyle to suit my new dietary lifestyle has intrigued me in the last while. I have implemented some things in my life that have dramatically changed the way I interact with the constant background noise we live with every day.
It all started when I read Tim Ferriss‘ Four Hour Work Week. One of the core principles in the book is eliminating the unnecessary from your life and one of the things he views as unnecessary is much of the information we take in on a daily basis. If the information is not directly actionable or does not have a direct effect on your life, he argues, what is the good of it? When you sit back and think about it, the idea is both simple yet revolutionary. We constantly expose ourselves to a ever increasing deluge of information in the name of being well informed citizens but in the end there is really nothing directly actionable for our lives in the 24/7 news cycle of CNN or ESPN. Sure, okay, watch the morning headlines or catch a 20 minute run on SportsCenter but then move on with your day. Do you really think things are going to change that much in an hour that you constantly need to check the headlines?
It has become increasingly clear to me that much of the media we consume in a day is like the sugary, trans-fat laden, pre-packaged snacks we have sworn to leave behind. Instead of doing damage to our body though, it is doing damage to our mind; weighing us down with the unnecessary disguised as the direly important, the optional disguised as the necessary. I used to check the news constantly in abject fear that I might miss something. How completely irrational is that? You know what though, I bet you feel the same way. And if it isn’t about the news it’s about the market, or your favorite sports team, or about Android, or Apple, or whether the new iPad 3 is called the iPad 3 or the iPad HD. It can drive you crazy.
What I would propose then is a radical concept. Approach your media consumption with the same principles, practices, and determination you have applied to adopting a Paleo life. I believe there is an undeniable link between our physical and mental well being. Having a well body leads to having a well mind and having a well mind leads to having a well body. True, full wellness springs from the combination of the two. Identify what is truly necessary in your life and eliminate what isn’t. Does your life really require that you consult with CNN on an hourly basis? Does AppleInsider really hold the keys to your happiness? Does that article, one in a million, that breaks down the differences between Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread really have to distract you from the work at hand?
You see, I have come to believe in two very certain things in my life during the last year of my Paleo journey:
- Multitasking is a fools errand. You do one thing to completion (or as completed as it can be at the time) and then move on to another. Trying to do several things at once will just slowly drive you crazy.
- The majority of the information we have come to believe, or are lead to believe, is necessary in are lives is more directed at selling us something than informing us. That something might be a product but it could be any number of other things that you probably don’t need, want, or can afford at the time.
If you’re willing to agree with these two statements, it’s time to change. Turn off the TV, close those permanently open browser tabs, don’t watch that keynote address that’s actually just a 45 minute commercial. Go do something productive, go do something for yourself, go play with your kids. We often complain about not having any time any more in our modern society but it’s often because we fill it up and take it away from ourselves. I think if we were more willing to approach how we fill our minds the way we approach filling our bodies, a lot of that time would magically reappear.
So take the time today to really assess how you use your mind and how you fill it up. A healthy mind contributes to a healthy body. Perhaps it’s time for us to invent a Paleo diet for our mind to go with the Paleo diet for our body.
A sound mind in a sound body is a short but full description of a happy state in this world.
– John Locke