When you think about the world what do you focus on? Is it primarily a friendly world filled with people that help each other? Is it a world consumed by hatred where everyone looks after themselves and step over their own mother to get money and power? Do you think it’s a balanced mix of the two?
The answer to this is greatly influenced by what daily information you consume, what you focus on. What’s the first thing you do each morning? How about the last thing at night?
Most people check their phones and read articles, their social media feed, the news. When at work they might read the paper, over lunch they check news feeds. They get home and watch news programs for an hour or so. Before bed, people check the phone again before going to sleep.
There are multiple issues with this process.
The algorithms in Facebook attempt to discern how likely you are to like or interact with content, removing items it thinks you won’t engage without of your timeline.
So, if you like a video on cars, you will find more car stories in your feed and suggested videos. This ensures ads match people interested in certain areas. But it has a massive negative: isolated thinking.
Say you want information about vaccinations. You decide to first look into the anti-vaxxer point of view, seeing the opposers so you understand their arguments. From then on, social media will display more of the same. It will suggest Facebook groups for anti-vaxers, video suggestions will be from the anti-vaxxer perspective. After a very short time, the other side will vanish. Anything showing the overwhelming benefits and scientific proof of vaccinations will be filtered out. This compounds for every new topic, taking notes from your previous interests.
I remember a blogger that did this as an experiment. He created a new Facebook account and liked, shared and commented on racist posts. Within a few days, his feed was filled only with that content and worse.
In other words, it creates confirmation bias. You are shown evidence that you’re right from people that think like you. The other side is barely seen if at all. Google is similar, skewing results based on your previous searches and mob rule from your area.
Primarily, what does the news show you? Stories of people being hateful, violent and despicable to others. People selling out others for profit. Politicians in another scandal, ruining our natural beauty for the sake of profit. Lies. Molestations. Deaths. Wars. Everything negative.
Sure they have one or two feel-good stories near the end, but they are a minority in the tsunami of villainy. Stories about people being kind to each other don’t sell newspapers or ad space.
All this negativity fills your day, bombarding your mind with crud that doesn’t give you anything worthwhile.
Imagine your life if you stopped digesting the news. Instead of waking up and checking your feed, ask yourself what are you grateful for today. Spend time with your partner, kids, pet, loved ones or simply doing something you love.
Imagine what you can do with your time instead of watching and reading negativity in the news. For a lot of people, this gives an extra 1 to 3 hours a day. What could you do with that extra time?
Give yourself a challenge. For the next 14 days, don’t watch, read or discuss anything to do with the news. Fill your time with something productive and positive. Then reflect on how your life has changed.
I have not consumed the news for over two decades. I have not missed anything important. If it affects me, I will find out about it one way or another. When I want information, I hunt it down.
Research both sides, minimising bias and drawing conclusions from all the evidence. But these days if it isn’t at our fingertips we don’t find it. This helps advertisers capture our attention and make a sale.
Don’t rely on social media for your research. I recommend using a search engine you don’t normally use and that doesn’t track you. DuckDuckGo is one example. Social media allows you to join a community of people that share your interests. That is fine, however, it is not a valid research destination.
My life is better as I am not pumped full of daily negativity.
This is not saying put on rose coloured glasses. Focus on what truly matters to you. So much stuff vies for our time. You determine what fills your day and your mind. Do you want advertisers to dictate that to you; or do you want to control your own life?
Fill your life with positive information, and I guarantee you’ll experience more positivity and happiness.
I can’t overstate the importance of focus for any endeavour. What we focus on is to the exclusion of everything else.
Our senses deliver 11 million bits of information per second to the brain for processing however, the conscious mind can only process under 50 bits per second.
This means to understand our environment out brain takes shortcuts. It deletes, generalises and distorts information so we are not overwhelmed. These shortcuts are based on our personal histories. Even though we experience the same events, we interpret them very differently.Continue reading
Constant pain is my normal. For the first 30 years of life, I treated my body like crap. Poisoning it with sugar and caffeine. Sitting at a computer all day and not exercising even in the simplest ways. I allowed myself to reach 175kg, bringing with it knee, ankle and lower back issues.
I remember I was around 15, slouching very low in my chair watching TV. My back was sore but I couldn’t be bothered moving. Two thoughts circled my mind: I’m young, I’ll be fine; I’ll worry about it when I’m older. Well, I’m older now and forced to worry about it.
Even though I’ve shed the weight, I made lasting damage. I’ve endured knee surgery to ensure I could run more than two steps before buckling. For two years I travelled to every pain specialist, physio and rehab guru I could find. Nothing worked.
My doctor at the time referred me the “best back specialists in the business” with the added chestnut “if they can’t help no one can”. My naivety took that to mean my issues would be solved.Continue reading
Changing my obesity mindset into one that nourishes a fit and healthy lifestyle didn’t happen overnight. I failed to shed weight more times than I can remember. I tried everything I could find. This is my journey.
I never saw myself as overweight. At 190cms (6 foot 3) and broad-shouldered, I held my bulk well. As a child, I was always large though with minimal chubbiness. So I was used to being a big kid, turned into a big adult.
Over the years I steadily built onto my fat supply but I never really thought of myself as obese. Yes, I knew I was overweight but to my eye, my natural size spread the weight evenly so I didn’t look super fat. That was the biggest lie I told myself. I compared my frame to shorter people that looked extremely fat. I didn’t look like them so I was still OK, right? I actually weighed far more than them, but my clothing and natural frame obscured the reality behind my delusions.
At the time, mechanical bathroom scales only went up to 120kg so I had no idea how heavy I actually was. Bending over to tie my shoes was like running a sprint, even walking briskly to the car caused shortness of breath. I played indoor cricket and indoor beach volleyball but took the lazy approach. Both could be played staying relatively stationary if you planned effectively. I perfected my bowling action by taking under four steps, and when batting I aimed to hit as hard as I could so I had ample time to jog to safety. For volleyball, my brutal serve allowed tallying points without moving from the spot. So my weekly exercise activities amounted to standing still half the time. Not overly effective, but I deluded myself that I was still active.Continue reading