After working on the same boring thing all day, no one can blame you for taking a well deserved break. Distractions can be valuable because they give your brain a chance to recharge and concentrate even better when you continue.
With the amount of content and information now accessible to the average person, choosing what to have has become like trying to have a snack at a buffet table. There’s so much out there that, unless you’re very picky, you’ll be missing out on some great stuff.
When you consume content, you are feeding you soul. And feeding your soul good and wholesome food is as important as doing so for your body. So what’s good and what’s not so good for you?
Junk food for the soul
1. TV dramas/sitcoms. Think back to the shows you were watching last year. Has it contributed to you as a person today? Did you learn anything valuable? TV shows are entertaining whilst we’re watching them but it’s not until it finishes or gets cancelled that we realise what kind of things we could have accomplished if we spent all those hours differently.
Studies have shown that filling your life with trashy TV about people arguing, cheating and lying, can lessen your sensitivity to the consequences of doing so. Watching shows about crime, murders and blackmailing can make you more paranoid and afraid than the reality.
I’m not saying all TV is bad, or that we should cut it out altogether. I am a big fan of a few series (ahem, Grey’s Anatomy), and of course a lot of documentaries are very informative, but TV is supposed to be ‘entertainment’ – meaning something to occupy you for a few hours a week. It’s not supposed to be a part time occupation or a way to numb your brain.
2. Evening News. The news obviously cannot report everything that happens in the world, so it has to be selective. Unfortunately, more people are interested about robberies and murders than charity runs. The news has become a medium that dramatises negative events to increase audience ratings. Just check out the front page of any news site and count how many times the word ‘death’, ‘dies’, ‘killed’, ‘stabbed’ and so on appear.
Again, of course we should be aware of what’s happening in the world around us, but in my opinion there’s no need to know about every single thing. Sometimes, it feels beautiful to be disconnected. If another Michael Jackson dies, you’ll hear about it, don’t worry, you don’t need to keep looking out for it.
3. Facebook. It’s a great way to keep in touch with friends, but how much do you need to know about them on a daily basis? Most people have hundreds of friends on facebook, so it’s simply not possible to keep track of what they do anyway. A lot of the time, people live in fear of missing out, so they think their lives would be better if they know what’s going on all the time, but deep down they know that this is simply not true. Letting go of the need to always know what’s going on at this very minute is the key to freedom. Ignorance is bliss.
4. Repeats. This year, I’ve made a quiet promise to myself that I will try not to watch any repeats – especially films. One of my friends is a media student and they’ve opened my eyes to just how much there is out there that it seems silly to watch another rerun. There are literally thousands of fantastic independent films, classic films, controversial films, historical films and breakthrough films that I’ve yet to see, why should I ever re-watch something I’ve seen before?
5. Other internet black holes. Mindless surfing on fail blogs, lolcats sites, youtube and so on is just another way to take our minds off things that really do matter. Life is short, and there are better ways places we can go to take a break…
5 Ways to feed your soul the right stuff:
So what should you do when you want to sit back and relax? Prepare for the link fest.
1. Read brilliant blogs. When I first accidentally stumbled on personal development blogs, I didn’t know that they would change my life. They opened up a whole new (better) world for me that connected with my real world over time. Since then, I’ve become a greener, healthier, more productive and happier minimalist. Over time I’ve read dozens and dozens of different blogs, but I there are a few I always go back to:
Balance in Me – well written tips about how to find balance in a busy world.
Change your Thoughts – redesign how you think about life.
Daily Mind – Eastern wisdom brought to the west.
Marc and Angel Hack Life – how to be more productive and happy, one of the best blogs I’ve ever found.
Stepcase Lifehack – a collaborative blog full of great tips from successful bloggers.
Zen Habits – who has never included Leo’s blog in a ‘best of blogs’ list?
For the minimalist in me:
Becoming Minimalist – contains some pure gems.
miss minimalist – We would definitely be best friends if we ever met.
mnmlist – another great creation of Leo Babatua’s.
stonesoup – combining my two loves: minimalism and food.
Other great blogs:
Lifehacker – …needs no explanation.
The Peak Condition Project – my favourite fitness blog in the world. Patrick knows what he’s talking about.
Zen to Fitness – simple and quick health tips.
Scott H Young – hundreds of articles on life and productivity for students.
2. Follow daily reminders. These get a category of their own because they are so inspiring.
The Mindfulist and The Mindfulist’s twitter – reminding you to be aware of the little things that matter.
Makes Me Think – thought provoking life stories in one sentence.
Thought Questions – asking the right kind of questions.
3. …and so does TED. Talks that simply blow your mind. Just some of my favourites:
Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids
Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight
Graham Hill: Why I’m a weekday vegetarian
4. Listen to Podcasts. I’ve mentioned podcasts before because I can’t recommend them enough. (iTunes links)
Buzz Out Loud – a technology podcast I’ve been following for years.
Nutrition Diva – dispelling common myths about what is good for you and what isn’t.
YOGAmazing – Great yoga instruction videos
Yoga Today – more yoga videos
Zencast – A comprehensive collection of Buddhist talks.
Zen is Stupid – Gwen Bell and Patrick Reynolds (also creators of the Mindfulist) are my heroes
5. Read great books.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens – the book that started it all.
Young Guns – by Robert Tuchman, a guide for fearless young entrepreneurs.
The Art of Happiness – one of HH Dalai Lama’s most widely read books.
The Power of Now – by Eckhart Tolle, changed the way I thought about thinking forever.
The Way of Zen – by Alan Watts, who was one of the first people to demystify Zen and bring it to the west.
The Definitive Book of Body Language – by Allan and Barbara Pease, a down to earth and humorous guide.
What Every BODY is Saying – by John Navarro, an ex FBI’s tips on reading body language and detecting deception.
How To Win Friends and Influence People – by Dale Carnegie, simply classic, which is why it has stood the test of time.
Despite what a lot of people are saying these days, consumption of media and information isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What really matters is doing it right and mindfully choosing the best kind of things to feed our soul with can make all the difference.