Think on These Things
When my wife was an undergrad at Harvard, we often attended church there, primarily to hear Harvard’s preacher, the late Peter J. Gomes. If you can imagine James Earl Jones with a HAH-vahd accent, that was Gomes all the way. Every year, Gomes heartily (HAH-tily) encouraged everyone to take up some kind of Lenten discipline, which I have found to be a helpful habit.
This year, I’m taking on a new Lenten discipline, and I hope you’ll join me: I am committing to 40 DAYS OF HIGH-NUTRIENT MEDIA. I will only read books, watch TV, or listen to podcasts that are educational, inspirational, or positively entertaining.
Multiple studies show that violence on prime time programming is increasing, making us more afraid. Other studies show that when we watch partisan news programming, we feel more hostile toward the other political party. To me, it’s common sense that your media consumption affects your view of the world, but apparently these guys got research grants to prove it.
Paul told the Philippians to focus their thoughts on good things, and this is the modern-day way of putting Paul’s preaching into practice. For the next forty days, I challenge you to consume only high-nutrient media, anything that:
- Educates: Anything that helps you learn something new, from TED Talks to nonfiction bestsellers to educational podcasts.
- Inspires: Anything that motivates you to improve yourself, from nutrient-filled biographies to inspiring movies to self-help books.
- Positively entertains: Any fiction, TV, or videogames that make you feel more energized after consuming them, rather than emotionally drained. Ask yourself: is this a fruit smoothie, or a milkshake? If in doubt, tune it out.
When you feed your brain with high-nutrient media, it’s the same as eating well, getting exercise, or breathing fresh air. It feels good. When you read inspiring stories, you get inspired. When you watch a positively entertaining movie, you feel positively entertained. As Paul said, and Peter Gomes would have echoed in his HAH-vard accent, “Think on these things.”
Try it with me. It’s the Lenten discipline that will really make you think.
Sir John Hargrave is the author of Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days, now available worldwide.