Everyone knows if we feed our body too much junk food, it will have negative health consequences.
Likewise, if we feed our mind bad information, it will also have negative health consequences.
Bad information is like junk food for the mind.
In today’s age of information overload, modern life can be like sitting at a buffet of unlimited food for our mind!
The question is, are you feeding your mind good food or junk food?
While many of us have long ago dismissed “mainstream media” as a source of pure fear and lies (ie. junk food for the mind), we find ourselves replacing it with whatever news or social media feed we prefer instead. But are those “alternative” information choices any better? Eating too much broccoli is just as bad as eating too many potato chips.
Mind vs. Stomach
Thankfully, our stomachs are only so big and there is a natural shut off valve that prevents us from constantly eating. But our minds have no such shut off value.
Our minds can handle a lot of information, limited only by the number of waking hours in a day. Whether we are at work, watching TV, or hiking in the forest, we are receiving information with our mind all day long. The key to mental health – improving awareness, wellness, and overall inner peace – is to ensure we feed our mind only the very best food.
Two Kinds Of Junk Food For The Mind
There are many bad things for the mind but here are two of the biggest ones.
Fear is like poison for the mind. Any kind of “news” – alternative or mainstream – that is based in fear is not healthy for the mind. When we expose our mind to fear, our nervous system does not know the difference between a fearful news story and a wild animal stalking us. Fear of all kinds can give us anxiety, worry, and eventually cause lasting damage to our health.
“But I only watch the news to stay informed of the risks”, you say?
OK, but if we spend our whole lives staying informed of the risks, we will spend our whole life living in fear. By choosing to be afraid of “hypothetical” risks, you are turning a potential risk (something bad “might” happen) into actual harm (the morning news made me worried and it ruined my day). In 99% of situations, the thing you were worried about didn’t happen – but what did happen was the worry itself. And the worry itself is what causes harm.
Staying “informed of the risk” by tuning into fearful news is the mental version of standing outside in a thunderstorm with a golf club held over your head saying “strike me”. It’s the same as sitting at a buffet and choosing to start your meal with sour milk.
In addition to fear, envy is junk food for the mind. Before Facebook and Instagram, we had to attend parties and social events to experience envy. Seeing and hearing about our peers’ and neighbors’ achievements could make us feel envious, which leads to disappointment in our own achievements.
But these days we just have to turn on our device and we can see someone who is richer, happier, skinnier, smarter or in some way “better” than us. Over time, comparing ourselves to other people can make us feel inadequate and lead us down an unhealthy direction.
So what IS healthy food for the mind?
Sometimes the best food for the mind is no food at all. Meditation is like a fast for the mind. When we stop adding food (information), it gives our mind a chance to clear itself out. Clearing our mind is much easier than clearing our digestive tract, but few of us bother to do it. Many of us would rather continue to stuff our mind with garbage than take a break and let it clear out.
Being out in nature can be a good way to clear the mind. Arts and crafts are often good for the mind. Any activities that give us joy and keep us from consuming mental junk food are much healthier than surfing social media. Music can be great for the mind, it soothes us and inspires us. Athletics is another good food for the mind as long as it doesn’t inspire envy or fear.
Our mind is not only designed to receive information, it can also send information. We send information with our thoughts and our thoughts create our reality. We are using our mind to create our reality whether we know it or not. If we feed our mind junk food, our reality is more likely to resemble junk. If we want to create peace and prosperity, it starts with what we feed our mind.