As I strive to improve the quality of my life, I notice that it requires good judgment. How can we choose quality things if we don’t know what quality is? We need to be able to differentiate between what is good and what is not. How to do that? We need knowledge.
I like to know that, for example, a quality nail polish is one that is creamy and gives a good coverage with one or two application, and preferably without harmful chemicals. Quality chicken is one that is raised as naturally as possible i.e free-range and without antibiotics. Quality clothing is sewn well and not made with thin and flimsy material.
But knowledge itself is not enough. A quality mind is also one that is receptive, peaceful and positive. It is open to new ideas and facts. It is not weight-down by unnecessary worries and is filled with good thoughts. It does not like gossips, lies and negativity in general. Instead a quality mind seek for things that are good, useful and beautiful.
For a few years, I have tried to achieve what I’ve described. So I made conscious effort to eliminate junk information and search for quality ones. It took a lot of effort trying to identify junk food for my brain. Here is some of the things I do:
We live in an era where we are bombarded with information. Unfortunately, not all of them are good for us. Here are some consumption that you want to reduce, if not eliminate completely:
The modern human animal spends upwards of 11 hours out of every 24 in a state of constant consumption. Not eating, but gorging on information ceaselessly spewed from the screens and speakers we hold dear. Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets. – In The Information Diet: A case of conscious consumption,
I know it’s very tempting but try to stop yourself from reading these: “28 Things Literally Everyone Does But Never Admit” or “21 Simple Reasons Why Having A Cat Is The Best Thing In The World”. These titled is made such a way to entice you to click it. Most of the time, it add very little value into your life except a few minutes of brainless entertainment.
What I do: On Facebook, I unfollowed people who constantly share link-baits (sorry!). I also edit my preference to see less of these link-baits (Click “Hide Post” at the top right button). See how you can control what you see in newsfeed.
2. Stalk people on social media
It’s so convenient to keep in touch with family and friends via social media, and we should make use of this technology. It’s nice to like their photos, drop a comment and greet them on birthdays. But there is no need to analyse and play guessing game on their life through their posts and photos.
What I do: I limit my time on social media. It’s a place I briefly check out what people are up to and catch up on important news. I rarely go to someone’s page to scroll on their page to see what they are up to. If I am really interested in that someone, I will have a private conversation on Whatsapp/Messenger or, and plan to meet. I also make it a point to call few of my closest friends every weekend.
Radio channels are not bad in itself, but its not of the best quality either. There are some about pranks and occasional news. But what’s disconcerting is that, the average commuter spend 100 hours stuck in traffic in 2014.
What it means that we are consuming 100 hours of songs, pranks and random news. If we spend that much time in the traffic, isn’t it better to feed our mind with better quality information like podcasts and audiobook? At least we learn something new. Try the Simply Luxurious Life or BBC’s podcast.
What I do: I still listen to radio when I’m commuting, but mostly those without DJ talking and with more songs than advertisements. Sometimes, I play music from my Spotify (Premium members can have ‘Offline’ albums. For a long drive, I listen to podcast or audiobook.
4. Personal blogs
Malaysians have a habit of reading personal blogs. I think its alright to follow a few blogs you enjoy once in a while, especially one that is positive (I love Karen Cheng’s). Unfortunately, I feel many blogs have rants, fights and drama in general. Do you really need more negativity in your life? Or unnecessary details of what a stranger ate yesterday? Most of us already have enough of our own trouble to deal with; why don’t we focus on ourselves instead. If you see yourself getting angry, envious and upset from reading a blog, it’s time to stop.
If you need inspiration, get it from people you know, books or movies. All the better, make something with your life and be someone else’s inspiration. A friend said “Oh, I use to read her blog. But one day I realise I need to live my own life, not someone else’s”. So true!
What I do: I stopped reading all personal blogs a long time ago. Then what do I do when I’m bored? I try to get my entertainment from doing things e.g folding origami, starting a garden, or making food. It so much more fulfilling this way. If I can’t do that and only have a few minutes, I’ll catch up with my friends on Whatsapp, reply to emails or read news instead.
5. Gossip/ Fashion Magazines
What I’ve realised: gossip magazine tells you life of celebrities you can’t (and may not want to) achieve and fashion magazines tells you to buy things you don’t need. I see no point in reading them.
What I do: I don’t buy fashion magazines anymore, or any physical magazines for that matter (so good that my house is not cluttered with them!). Instead I get my fashion inspiration from online magazines like The Coveteur.
We all have limited time. But if we are able to spend less time doing things that doesn’t add value to our life (like above), we have more time to do things that improve the quality of our minds (below). Are you wondering, ‘What do I consume then?’. Plenty.
1. Read good magazine, books and websites
There are magazines, books and sites that supply good information. Make it a habit to read good quality information daily. Imagine reading a page of gossip magazine vs book on your hobby (e.g yoga, hiking) everyday for a year. In twelve months, your mind will either be filled with juicy stories of a superstar or you will have knowledge on things you love doing.
What I do: I make it a point to read before I sleep. It’s my bedtime ritual. Not only I learn something every night, I sleep better too. (Read: How to create a bedtime ritual). When I’m bored and want to read something on my phone, I’ll read Brain Pickings (if I have more time) or Economist Espresso (if I only have a few minutes). But there are plenty of quality interesting sites out there. Explore and find a few that fit you best.
2. Listen to audiobook or podcast
If you wonder what do you do if you don’t listen to the radio in the car? Try listening to podcast. It’s free and there’s something for everybody. Try the Simply Luxurious Life if you’re into living well or BBC’s podcast if you’re into news/documentaries. If you are willing to spend some money, I highly recommend buying audiobooks.
What I do: I subscribe to Audible and listen to audiobooks in the car or before I sleep. I bought the complete Sherlock Holmes which will provide 58 hours of quality entertainment. Try your first book for free.
3. Spend time with with people who lift you up
It’s important to make new friends, but I think its even more important to nurture friendships you’ve made. Beware of friends who constantly criticize you and complain about everything. Recently, I was made involved in other people’s drama and it got me very upset for days. I didn’t realise then, how people can affect our state of mind. For a quality mind that is positive and peaceful, try to spend more time with people who lifts you up.
What I do: I have a lot of friends, but there are only a handful which I can talk to about interesting ideas and who make me feel that they want the best for me. I make extra effort for these lovely people e.g call them, share interesting articles, plan meet up and send them something on their birthday etc
Why do we want a quality mind? If quality mind is one that is good and happy, why not? Just like how our body is affected by what we eat, our mind is affected by what we read and who we talk to. If you won’t put junk food into your body, why do you want to put junk information into your brain?
Having said that, I think its important to have a balance in life. It’s okay to flip through gossip magazines or read link-baits once in a while; just don’t make them our main source of entertainment. Instead, let’s fill our mind with good information and surround ourself with wonderful people.
Let’s strive for a quality mind!