How to Cleanse your Information Diet

Avthar's Weekly Wisdom #55 (06/06/2021)

Welcome to edition #55 of Avthar's Weekly Wisdom!

🔥 This newsletter is where I share practical wisdom about self-mastery, entrepreneurship, health and happiness, all to help you live better. My guarantee is that you’ll discover one thing that will help you change your life every week.

I have just a single essay for you this week. It’s about how to optimize your information diet for achievement, clarity and peace. It will help you better master yourself, further your career and improve your mental health. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think in the comments or reply to me directly.

To your growth and success, 

Avthar


How to Cleanse your Information Diet

You want to really think about what kind of information you’re consuming, and you want to be very thoughtful that it's information that encourages you to do more and to actually work on the thing you’re aspiring to do, and that isn’t implicitly discouraging.” 

- Dalton Caldwell, Managing Director at Y-Combinator, previously founder and CEO at imeem and Mixed Media Labs.

The information we consume shapes our brain and thinking in much the same way as the food we consume affects our body composition and energy levels. High quality information that’s aligned with our goals will help us think clearly and achieve more, while junk food information will lead us to the mental equivalents of malnutrition and obesity.

Curating our information diet is therefore essential in the world of information overload that each and every one of us with an internet connection and a phone experiences daily.

1. How to optimize your information diet for achievement, clarity and peace

At some level, I’ve always recognized the importance of being intentional about the things I read, listened to and watched. At age 17, I listened to motivational speeches by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eric Thomas in the gym and filled my Facebook feed with fitness personalities and inspirational quotes. These undoubtedly helped me stay focused to achieve things like gaining admission to Princeton University and losing 50 pounds.

However, it wasn’t until years later that I understood how and why the information we consume influences our mind and our actions. It was this video by investor and entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell that triggered a series of epiphanies about why curating your information diet is so important:

In the video, Caldwell gives us brilliant advice about curating our information diet. He encourages us to watch, read and listen to things that align with our goals and aspirations, rather than indiscriminate consumption of whatever journalists or algorithms put in front of us.

Caldwell also hints at an important truth: 

The content we consume subtly reprograms our minds and changes our perception of what we consider important about ourselves and the world. 

If we consume the wrong sorts of information, it can cause us to get distracted and focus on things of lesser importance, thereby derailing us achieving our goals, but also causing our thinking to be vague, boring and imprecise and also causing our mental state to be anxious, unfocused and unstill.

We must ask ourselves:

Is this content that I'm consuming serving me well, and making me… a better human being, or is it making me kind of depressed and sad?

That question is even more important in a world of algorithms and feeds ever-ready to serve us the next thing to pay attention to. I’ve had to unfollow and mute tons of folks on Twitter who have massive followings in the self-help or startup world, because reading their tweets made me feel worse about myself and my life. 

Nothing in my life actually got worse by reading their tweets, but my perception became clouded by thoughts of scarcity, which led to dissatisfaction with a life that just seconds before I was perfectly grateful for and content with. The same goes for following celebrities on Instagram or watching football rants on Youtube (one of my guilty pleasures).

While it’s true that content from the right people can lead to epiphanies and insights which help you break out of your shell and live differently, we must be careful that the information we consume doesn’t unconsciously lead us off the narrow road of living life according to our own internal scorecard.

Therefore, we need to be mindful of what we’re consuming and how it impacts our ability to achieve, think clearly and be at peace. Caldwell concludes the video with advice on how to decide what content to keep in your information diet and what to discard:

I want you to be really thoughtful about what kind of information you're consuming.

If it's inspiring you to build more things, if it's inspiring you to work harder, if it's inspiring you to be rowing in the right direction [then keep it], and if there's pieces of information or there's content you're consuming, that's kind of discouraging or blowing you off track, just stop reading it, stop consuming it.”

2. Exposure programs the mind

We’ve all heard of the saying: “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Caldwell argues that “your thought process is heavily influenced by the five most common information sources you get.” 

There’s an important lesson in there: You become that which you are most exposed to.

Whether it's friends you’re spending time with, or content you’re consuming, the things to which you constantly expose yourself to will shape who you are in the long run. 

I first learned this lesson from Kapil Gupta, an advisor and coach to world class CEOs and athletes. He explains the power of exposure in a dialogue with Naval Ravikant

KAPIL: There’s a very simple truth as to how to arrive at getting over your problems without having to lift a finger.

NAVAL: You’ve got my ears.

KAPIL: It’s all about exposure.

If a person sat on his couch for the next 50 years, his internal environment–from his mind to his brain, everything within him is a direct resonance–it’s like a tuning fork. It responds to the inputs. Same as a microphone. If that human is exposed to truth on a regular basis, his ears don’t even have to hear it consciously. Something inside of him will internalize that truth and that will become his new norm.

A human being becomes his environment and that is why it’s absolutely critical to savagely and surgically arrange one’s environment in a way that is in accordance with where he wants to go.

No one does that. 

If a person is exposed to truth on a regular basis–and not prescription. It’s gotta be straight truth. Then that becomes his norm. That becomes the way that he thinks. His brain begins to rewire itself. There isn’t a single amount of work that needs to be done. There isn’t a single amount of psychotherapy that needs to be done. No medications. The human body treats itself.

It all depends upon the input. It is all about one thing and one thing only: exposure. You become that which you are most consistently exposed to

Your information diet is a critical part of the mind’s environment. If you can craft an information diet that exposes you to things which help you get where you want to go on a regular basis, you will eventually reach your destination. 

One of the lessons I learned from writing every week for a year straight exemplifies this principle of exposure well: Reading great writers helps you become a better writer. By constantly reading great writing, you can absorb the good writing style, explanatory methods and vocabulary subconsciously just by being exposed to it. This influences how you articulate your thoughts and improves the quality of your own writing, all without taking a single writing class.

The content you expose yourself to by way of your information diet will program your mind and determine who you become. Keep that in mind when choosing who to follow on social media or what you read, watch and listen to on a regular basis.


That’s all for this week. Next week I’ll share a case study in curating your information diet, using the example of an aspiring entrepreneur.

I want to hear from you: How do optimize your information diet? Do you have any favorite questions, habits or best practices that have most helped you?

I’d love to learn more and share them with fellow readers of this newsletter.

Do let me know in the comments or by replying to this email.

🙏 Thank you again for reading and for your support! I wish you a week of happiness, success and peace!

With gratitude,

Avthar 

🌐 avthar.com

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