"You are what you eat!"
Have you ever been over-eating delicious food and completely regretted it the moment the last hint of the flavorful goodness was gone from your mouth?
Instead, now you just feel your stomach expanding, your jeans getting tighter, and gravity slowly pulling you to the floor, thinking to yourself- Why do I do this!?
I’ve done it. I do it. It will probably happen again.
But I know the consequences. Eating too much food, especially the fried, fattening, and sugary kind makes me feel disgusting, lethargic, slow, lazy, and depressed. I’ll probably gain some weight too.
So, what about what your brain eats?
Remember in "Brain Food Part 1: What it REALLY Means to Listen”, I encouraged you to listen to the healthy things in life. Unfortunately, so many of us are listening to (consuming) unhealthy things.
Bad brain food.
But it’s more than just listening. It’s watching, participating in, and hanging around all these unhealthy things.
And the scary part about brain food is that its effects can creep up on you.
Back in my senior year of college, I spent my time like any other college student. I went to class, socialized with a few friends, and studied for hours on end. When none of that was happening, I did indulge in watching TV in my free time.
At the time I mostly watched comedy, comedy-dramas, and superhero series, but when I was caught up on all my shows, I’d find myself scrolling through the streaming services to find something else interesting to sink my teeth into.
Well, it didn’t take long before I found a series that already had 6 seasons available to watch. That would give me enough entertainment for the days spent waiting for new episodes of my other shows to come out.
I saw the show at the top of the website, as it had clearly gained a lot of popularity in recent months. I won’t say the name of the show, but I’ll just tell you that it definitely was a show without shame.
The show captivated me with it’s realistic drama that showed just how crazy life can get for ordinary people. In some ways, I could relate to the drama and heartache that these characters were feeling, and that made me intrigued to keep watching it.
But as the show progresses, it sinks the audience deeper into the lives of it’s characters, showcasing all of their pain, sin, and dysfunction.
The characters repeatedly take part in indecent behavior without remorse, like drug addiction, emotional and physical abuse, sexual immorality, lying, cheating, and stealing. As the central theme of the show, it felt like an attempt to normalize this kind of behavior to young people.
Eventually, the same thing that intrigued me to watch the show in the beginning caused me to dislike it.
If you’ve figured out by now what show I’m referring to, you probably think I’m crazy because I know a lot of people enjoyed it. BUT HEAR ME OUT~
As I said before, there were experiences in the show that I could relate to very deeply. My experiences caused me a lot of pain in life, so seeing those types of experiences being normalized and exploited for entertainment made me feel like mine were being discredited.
However, those feelings of disgust and depression didn’t hit me all at once.
I watched quite a few episodes of the show before I really started to notice how I was feeling afterwards. With each episode I felt heavier. I was anxious and unsettled. Pretty soon, I was even physically affected: headaches and fatigue.
I finally had had enough and stopped watching. The symptoms stopped too.
I realized that I was unnecessarily exposing myself to bad brain food. For the sake of what? A “good story”?
We are capable of internalizing the feelings of our environment.
So it’s simple.
If you want to be happy, feed yourself happiness.
Think about this in regards to: social media, TV, music, friend groups, family, work environments... etc. All of these things are part of your brain food.
Some of them you can control, and others you cannot.
Am I spending too much time on social media? Relentlessly scrolling, comparing my life to others who appear to be unbelievably successful? Do I get into arguments online? How much time have I wasted?
Am I constantly seeing reports of bad news whenever I look at my phone or TV? How does that alter my mindset for the day?
What am I seeing online? Does it align with my values and principles? What kind of music am I listening to and what does it mean?
Do my friends support and care about me? Are they motivated individuals that push me to do my best? Do I aspire to be like them?
Always think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Pay attention to how it affects you.
Remember, unlike real food, brain food doesn’t carry calories, so you can’t measure the amount of “weight” it will put on you. You have to be extremely mindful, vigilant, and self-aware to recognize the harm it’s doing.