There are a number of ways to be happy. But all the ways I can think of have one thing in common: the present.
You can’t be happy in the past: it’s over. (Yes, you can be happy with the past!)
You can’t be happy in the future: it’s not here yet! (Yes, you can look forward to your future!)
But you can only be happy … now! Even when the future finally arrives, it transmogrifies into … now!
And, with that massive scientifically proven statement, let’s look at a facet that can affect our happiness.
What we consume.
I’m not talking about food but information.
A topic like this can go off on all sorts of tangents and we are all individuals so not every tangent will apply to everyone.
Let’s bring it back to ourselves. The rest of this article is for you to think about you! It has really made me think about the information I consume.
Is what we are consuming adding to our happiness, our contentment, our goals? Or is it debilitating?
I have a really good Twitter feed. The people I follow are inspirational and positive for the most part, many are quite witty and I enjoy their content. Some go off on rants then apologise then rant again. (I mute them for a while. Like sending them to the naughty corner! 😉)
But I’ve begun to notice my mood as I scroll through the feed, the same on Instagram. Am I being fed? Am I leaving the feed better than when I started? That is what I’d like to happen. Selfish? Possibly! But it’s my life and I want to be happy, content and satisfied for as much time as I can. Don’t you?
As Marcus Aurelius is often quoted, which also applies to our media based interactions:
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
So the tough times, awkward situations and difficult people are going to occur. Why would I not seek to control what I consume if I can?
(To be fair, the people I work with are some of the best people I have ever worked with, so, there is that! 😀)
Even reading inspirational posts can leave you dissatisfied (I could never do that! It must be wonderful for them. If only I had the willpower!) We start off full of enthusiasm and then realise maybe we haven’t got what they clearly have!
This is not to say we shouldn’t read great works, and work on improving ourselves. Not at all. But we need to start where we are and not assume or think we get a head start based on someone else’s experience or story. And, sorry to say, are all stories true?
My point about consumption is to be cautious with what we consume. Can we use the information immediately? Can we apply the same rules as the author? I’d dare say, in most cases, no!
What to do
Many people I know, and I have done this, do a regular review of what they are consuming. Turning off the mainstream news is a start. Most of it is negative and many times, sensationalism. (They have their job to do, after all, which is sell information and product.)
And then we can look at our social media feed. Is it feeding you positively? Or is it leaving you a little despondent? Take the time to identify what is causing the downward trend and ask yourself if you need this. Maybe not. Unfollow.
Before I am accused of being a killjoy, I’m not suggesting you cut everything off! Not at all. But I am suggesting we look for those avenues that take us toward what we want a little more carefully.
One the areas I have taken to edit is the TV. I don’t think I’m an orphan here. I hear of a lot of shows that dramatise discord and conflict and many enjoy these. My wife included. She loves her crime shows. I admit we did watch Breaking Bad and The Good Wife in their entirety, among others.
Lately, I have decided to not get “caught up” in these types of shows simply because they depict conflict as part of their premise and I don’t need any more of that. I prefer a calming evening. We do watch re-runs of Friends, Big Bang and Brooklyn 99, Spy and I am enjoying the Welcome to Wrexham series.
As I am trying to convey, it’s not about total elimination of TV or other media but the discriminate review of what we consume to improve our mood, outlook and overall well being. As a very specific example, while we enjoy the Friends series, neither my wife and I can watch the episodes with “on again off again Ross and Rachel”. Others love that!
If you are engaged by certain elements of the media and they help you grow and be a better person, go nuts. The opinions above are mine, in an attempt to demonstrate the choices we have to enjoy some peace and solitude when we want it. And to gain control of what we consume to help us access that peace and solitude any time we like.
Just like too much coffee can give you the jitters, perhaps too much consumption of certain media can too. And also like coffee, some can consume coffee late at night and still get a good night’s sleep. Others … can’t! 😵💫
As always, you be you!
Not everyone is triggered by the same inputs. And, as I said in my opening, this can go off on many tangents that affect everyone differently. I’ve used examples to help you review your situation to help bring a little more joy and happiness to your “now”.
I hope, in some way, I’ve triggered some positive action for you.
We become what we consume.
As a man (person) thinketh, so is he!
Now you’ve read the paper, it’s time for the test, if you wish to play! 😉
For the next three days, check what you consume and mentally give it a tick or a cross. If you’re really keen, write them down in columns of “good vs evil” – just for fun. After three days, decide what you want to do with your lists!