Chuck Carroll

Our Mental Life is a Product of What We Pay Attention To

Published: 2024-06-28

I sometimes find myself pruning digital content from my life that has built up over time. Whether that's decluttering my RSS feed, reducing my podcast subscriptions to just one or two, deleting music from my phone that I don't listen to, or deleting TV shows locally from my laptop that I'm not particularly enjoying but fell into a routine of watching at a particular time of day. I also decided to cut out video games for 2024.

Digital media and entertainment produce far too much noise while providing very little signal. What I mean here is that there's too much useless nonsense grabbing at my attention and using up mental reasons while offering very little insightful or useful information. This, of course, is my own fault. We're products of what we pay attention to and need to be cognizant of our information diets, constructing them in a conscious and intentional manner.

I've been making an effort to cut down on the total volume of noise in my daily life but allowing what I consider "high signal" information sources which includes, books, audiobooks, one or two podcasts, a handful of RSS subscriptions, and yes, even some high-rated movies I haven't seen. Not being on social media has been a tremendous benefit, but deleting all of your social media accounts isn't the end-all solution and training yourself is an on-going effort. Decluttering the noise allows me to focus my attention longer on things that I find more important or fulfilling, and less prone to distraction.

How often does your phone vibrate? How often do you get email or message notifications on your desktop? When you go to the bathroom, do you bring your phone with you? I've noticed that people in my life who "terminally online" and obsess over the 24 hour news cycle tend to be far more anxious, distracted, confused, and even paranoid. I don't want to be like that.

We are what we eat. Our minds are products of what we pay attention to and an information diet consisting of social media, YouTube, Netflix, and news makes for bad mental hygiene and mental health.

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