What we watch, read and listen to becomes part of our internal voice and informs our view of the world.
When we surround ourselves with stress and drama in the form of reality TV, movies and violent-themed video games and music with dis-empowering messages we are inviting that reality into our lives.
When we surround ourselves with media and messages that are inspire, uplift or challenge us to expand our thinking we add positive fuel to our internal fire.
One of my teachers David Life includes this idea in his teachings on Nada yoga, the yogic art and science of union and transformation through sound and tone.
Essentially, what we listen to has the power to move us towards joy, happiness and liberation or away from it.
I know a few people who have thrown out their TVs, ditched their smartphones and avoid the internet. I am not one of those people.
I don't have regular TV service, but we do have Netflix and Hulu. My man and I are totally addicted to watching Agents of Shield and I got hooked on Scandal while he was out of town.
I listen to the news on NPR and am energized by punk rock. I enjoy dramatic adventure movies, complicated romantic dramas and classics with controversial themes like Breakfast at Tiffany's.
We each must decide for ourselves at what level we want to practice and regularly check in to balance or actions and intentions.
When I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed it is easy to feel drawn toward entertainment that meets me at that anxious vibration. (Scandal binge anyone?) It seems restful because I can "zone out" but it isn't really doing my mental, physical or emotional health any good.
What is actually more helpful is to take in messages that will ground me or move my frenetic energy in a positive direction. That way I come out of stress or anxiety mode and into a relaxed state. My mental, physical and emotional health increases.
This could mean listening to a podcast featuring other writers when I am stuck in a vulnerability hangover after going deeper with my own book. Or listening to a conversation style podcast like The Good Life Project when it feels like I am hearing a lot of venting or gossip. Sometimes it means reading a book about another person's journey in this life or looking to a book for inspiration, insight or motivation.
Starting today pay a little extra attention to what messages you are taking in and how it is contributing to how you feel. Then make a switch if possible.
For example if you are driving in the car and feeling super anxious and overwhelmed pay attention to what is on the radio. Is the news on? Are you listening to songs that demean women or glorify violence, destructive behaviors or destructive relationships?
What happens if you change the channel, turn off the radio or turn on a carefully selected podcast?
Notice how it feels in your body. Notice how your mood shifts or how your thoughts change.
Here are a few of my favorite uplifting books and podcasts. Maybe you'll love them too.
1. The Good Life Project - podcast
2. The Lively Show - podcast
3. She Did It Her Way - podcast
4. The Happiness Project - book by Gretchen Rubin
5. The Firestarter Sessions - book by Danielle Laporte
6. Daring Greatly - book by Brene Brown
7. Marie TV - weekly video by Marie Forleo
Let me know how this practice works for you and please pass along any of your favorite books and podcasts. I am always interested in expanding my library and playlist.
As always, if you enjoyed this essay, please share it with a friend or your social network.