Some people say that human beings tend to be negative. That, in neutral situations, we always lean toward pessimism. That we believe that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, just more darkness.
And, on top of all that, they say that there’s nothing we can do about it–it’s in our genes. There are probably even scientific studies to support this disheartening worldview and reaffirm those who choose to take a sombre view of life.
Don’t worry, I haven’t look for these studies and I don’t plan to either.
Because, frankly, I’m just not one of those people and I hope you aren’t either.
My own experience has taught me that one of the biggest causes of this negative mindset is being constantly bombarded and exposed to negative information.
This influences our state of mind, our creativity, and our Doer Energy on a much deeper level than we can even imagine. Given those effects, it’s hard to believe that most of that exposure is truly voluntary, even when it feels that way.
I don’t need to give you the numbers. Just look at your life and you’ll see that you routinely spend a huge chunk of your day watching the news, listening to it on the radio, and reading it in the paper. The kind of information we get from these sources is almost uniformly negative and, on top of that, completely irrelevant to achieving our personal goals.
We become information junkies, but of the worst kind–the kind that doesn’t consume empowering knowledge but just takes in a flow of toxic images and narratives.
Years ago, I decided to quit my addiction to consuming information and I’ve never looked back.
I don’t watch news programs, I don’t read newspapers, and when I listen to the radio it’s only to music stations.
I unfollowed more than a hundred blogs (all the ones I subscribed to so I could “keep myself up to speed” on various things).
Basically, I stopped spending hours on end just stuffing myself full of free information for no purpose other than to occupy my downtime.
Now I’m on a total information diet. I still regularly use new information to help me reach my goals, but I only consult what I need when I need it. It’s all about practicing the art of selective ignorance. We can use ignorance to our advantage by choosing not to consciously expose ourselves to toxicity and negativity.
Of course, I still get accidentally exposed to negative information that contaminates my energy.
It’s all over the place.
But at least now I can tell, with much more clarity, how it affects my energetic state and my attitude. Like when someone leaves a television on in the background. Sometimes, if I’m not very aware and let my guard down, I let myself get pulled in by the sights and sounds coming from whatever TV show or news is on. And when I snap out of it, even if it’s only been five minutes, the effects are obvious: I’m left with the drive and creative excitement of a worm.
It’s a very subtle state, one that I could have ignored and would have even considered “normal” before my information detox.
But now I know better.
In that state, it’s like my Doer Energy “spark” is being shut down and sealed in an air-tight jar, where it slowly starts to decay. Actually, it feels like the complete opposite of having my creativity and Doer Energy bubbling up with excitement, ready to create and get into action.
When I experience that state, it’s not hard for me to see why some people think humans tend to be pessimistic.
Stop for a moment and reflect on this: You can live perfectly well and fine without 99% of the news out there.
In fact, one can argue you’d be even happier without it.
Even that important 1%—the information that will actually affect your life and your actions—is something you’re going to end up knowing in a organic way.
Someone will tell you about it, you’ll see a glimpse of it in a headline while you’re walking by a newsstand, or you’re going to hear people chattering about it here and there.
But your life will improve dramatically if you stop actively consuming information and news in search of this helpful 1%, because you will shut out all the depressing 99% background noise that surrounds it.
Of course, there are going to be people who tell you that it’s irresponsible to live “isolated from the world,” not knowing what’s going on out there.
But you can always just ask them to tell you about how the world is doing.
That way, they’ll feel proud that they can finally do something useful with all of the noisy information that they crammed into their heads. A true win-win!
Others will tell you about how “important” it is to know everything there is to know about the latest developments so that you can form an independent opinion about current events.
When information junkies defend their addiction this way, I always want to laugh: as if following the news makes your opinion more valid!
Newsflash: in case you haven’t noticed, the news has its own biases!
It’s biased toward fear and negativity, and I’m not even entering into politics here.
Following it doesn’t guarantee that your opinion is more valid. In fact, it’s the opposite: consuming too much fear-biased news gives you a polarized and slanted worldview.
Besides, despite what the info addicts say, the important thing to remember here is that you don’t need to form an opinion about every single thing that happens.
Only the people who need to be right about everything think they do.
Those who are flexible and aim to remain open don’t. They can listen to a variety of opinions on a single topic without feeling the need to take a position.
Plus, if the moment does come when you need to form an opinion (like on Election Day), you can quickly gather a decent amount of information from a variety of sources.
Information nowadays is readily accessible and easily searchable; you don’t need to swallow gallons of it every day just to be prepared for the rare moment when you have to take a stance.
Especially since we know how it affects your Doer Energy.
I’m a huge believer in self-experimentation. So if you find all of this hard to believe, what better approach than testing it out yourself?
Go on a one-week hypo-information diet and pay close attention to your energy levels (Doer Energy, creativity, mood, etc.) I’m sure you will be surprised (if not shocked.)
Follow this regimen for seven days:
No television. If you’re used to putting the news on in the background during breakfast or dinner, try music instead. Without the endless chatter, you’ll enjoy your food and your company much more.
No written press, online or off. If you’re one of those people who is used to reading the paper at the breakfast table or in your armchair in the evening, swap it out for a good book.
No news on the radio. Again, just replace it with music.
No information consumption. Stop following any blogs or read anything online. The only exception is if you need some information that you can put to use immediately. You can set Google Alerts if you need to stay on top of something, like a new product release or a story you’re tracking.
No social media or messaging/IM notifications. If that’s too extreme for you, check them only once a day for no more than 15 minutes. If you need to use social media for work, there are apps that let you publish and perform maintenance on your social media accounts, letting you make the most of your time without even having to log on. That way, you avoid getting sucked in and wasting your time.
No email notifications. Disable them (in your desktop, in your smartphone, etc) and check it only twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. This is really difficult for internet junkies, who practically have a nervous tic for refreshing their inbox (I speak from experience), but do your best to stick to this rule. You’ll be surprised by the results.
Important: Before consuming any type of information, pause for a moment and ask yourself, “Do I need to consume this in order to achieve this task or is just for the sake of consumption?”. It’s fine if it’s for the latter, but just make yourself aware of it.
If some of these made you think “no way! I can’t do that!,” watch out: that’s your inner junkie talking. You CAN do this and it will be liberating. Just give it a try.
Observe yourself closely during those 7 days.
You’ll find that not only do you have more time, but that you’re also in a much better mood, more prone to creativity, and have a greater capacity for concentration.
You’ll also have a much higher level of Doer Energy than usual, which will help you manifest results.
The secret to increasing your concentration, creativity, and Doer Energy?
Simply treat them like your most valuable and precious possessions (when you think about it, they really are!) and keep them safe from the daily bombardment of noisy, irrelevant, and toxic information.
Do that and you might just emerge from your information diet seeing life through a clearer lens than you ever thought possible (and with some nice achievements under your belt!)
Are you in for a 7-day hypo-information diet?
Leave a comment and let me know how it goes.