The changes we desire to make in life become increasingly possible when we change the influences around us." - Joshua Becker
Influencers. You may or may not have heard of this term but it describes a person with the ability to sway thoughts, ideas and most important to marketers, purchasing decisions. Social influence occurs when a person’s emotions, opinions or behaviors are affected by others (well said Wikipedia, well said). Given this knowledge, how much does what we take in (from influencers, to the food we eat, to the media we devour) impact our ability to grow? This post is dedicated to sustaining our progress towards personal and professional goals by monitoring and consciously choosing what we consume.
Consumption has become so ingrained in our standard way of living that we may not even recognize what filters through our conscious and subconscious minds. From social media, radio, tv, Google to water cooler conversations, food, alcohol, you name it, we are constantly absorbing something. This information steers our decision making and usually without us noticing it. Given this, it's important to become discerning about how to spend our attention, time, energy, calories, money, etc..
An easy example of subconscious influence we’ve noticed recently was found in the television shows and movies we watch. In a rare moment of free time, your Black Zen team decided to splurge on a show hole and let the mind "rest.” What we found were a collection of drama-filled, drastically mean characters and shows that depicted the worst aspects of the human experience (granted, the selection of material was our bad. We should have known to stay away from reality TV!). While some shows do uplift and provide positive images of people and places, overall the representations of our society were pretty bleak. We get that we’re living in crazy times (hell, any person reading our current state of politics and the news would agree), but all the more reason why continuing to put attention on these negative representations is the last thing we need. 10 Reasons to Watch Less Television demonstrates just how much we’re influenced by what we watch and how that impacts our relationships, our worldview, and ultimately, our perception of what reality looks like.
While some of us are consciously aware that what we watch is not real, on a subconscious level, how much of these images, storylines and points of view begin to shape what we expect? Before we are quick to say that we’re too savvy to be fooled, the article by Dartmouth College’s Gender and Media Group, We Are What We Consume, shows just how much we can be influenced without even realizing it.
For those that want to dive even further into our consumption habits, it’s worth considering why we feel the need to consume so much in the first place. Some theories suggest that it’s because of our desire to mask negative feelings (sadness, loneliness, powerlessness, etc.) that make us uncomfortable. And rather than sitting with those moments and examining what’s truly underneath them, it’s often easier to consume more food, TV, content, what have you, than deal with those emotions. This is another post entirely; don’t be surprised if we circle back!
Ultimately, when we’re thoughtful and selective about what we choose to be influenced by and why, we not only grow as individuals, but we raise the consciousness of those around us as well. We’re all influencers on some level, so if what we want is to be kindhearted, healthy and happy people, then our consumption habits - visual media, articles we read, music we listen to, food we eat and even people we interact with, should reflect that.
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