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Is It Time for a Diet?

Courtney Lynch, November 2, 2020

As leaders it’s important to recognize a simple formula:

Our thoughts become our beliefs that influence our behaviors.

With a pandemic, the runup to a heated election, and the numerous media outlets clamoring for our attention, this might be time to consider a media diet.
Just as we can be intentional about the food we choose to eat, we can also be intentional about the type, and how much, media we consume.  I’m not sure about you, but one thing I noticed fairly early in the pandemic, is that my screen time averages went way up.  I’ve been on a journey to keep it in check, and to resist absorbing endless content without questioning its accuracy, slant, bias, and value. 
Studies have shown that heavy social media and rolling news consumption decreases our mental well-being.  It’s not zero media that improves your emotional health, it’s an intentional media diet that keeps you informed and steady.  We hunger for ideas.  Our brains crave engagement.  Here are tips for a balanced media diet: 

  • Try books.  Journalism is the first draft of history.  First drafts can be full of errors and points that evolve into something completely different, later.  Balance your news intake with books about issues and topics you enjoy.  Books are more thoughtfully constructed and can fuel your thoughts in valuable ways.
  • Switch viewpoints.  Just like eating a variety of foods makes you healthier, consuming a variety of media makes you more aware.  FOX and CNN are quite different.  If you typically consume one, balance your intake with some time watching the other.
  • Seek out educational sources.  Spend some time with media outlets like National Geographic, the Smithsonian, or the BBC that go more in-depth and give a fuller picture to issues.  While getting the headlines with a quick scroll can be handy, making time for a more robust read, listen or watch can enrich your thinking.
  • Limit the frivolous.  Just like you don’t eat candy at every meal, be cautious about your social media intake and scrolling of propaganda-based content that bends the truth.
  • Get real.  Make a point to plan real-life, screen-free, info intake: going to a museum, playing a board game, experiencing the arts, or having a deep conversation are all activities that improve our health.

The ideas you consume fuel your thoughts.  As leaders, the more broadly we think, the more effective we become at influencing outcomes and inspiring others. 

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