A Simple Strategy to Improve Your Mind
Is there any good reason to justify joining a criminal gang?
Seems like a dumb question.
And the obvious answer is no.
But the great Hideyoshi would disagree. Even though he was the man to unify Japan after 200 years of civil strife.
Hideyoshi had a not-so-good beginning.
He got kicked out of every school he was in. And decided to join a gang of robbers.
All of this by the age of 13.
During his criminal endeavours, he bumped into an old family friend named Aoki. And Aoki accosted him for being with robbers and disgracing his family.
Hideyoshi listened carefully and replied with the following:
"There is no saying that because a person is employed by a robber he must necessarily be bad. There are men who, like the lotus in the mud, retain their purity and beauty even in the midst of robbers. To condemn, then, without discrimination every person who has to do with robbers shows a singular want of discernment."
Aoki was stunned.
Hideyoshi, a mere child, showed how Aoki was quick to judge. Although this is touching, we must judge certain things, like the content we consume.
What about the content?
Since we live in a world where we are connected to the internet for a large part of our day. A lot of information is being communicated to us. This seems nice, but the problem is that not all information is good.
In fact, a lot of it is horrible.
And it's this poor information that bombards us the most. Whether we like it or not, we get affected by it.
This is why a lot of us can have low-quality thoughts.
Because low-quality content is feeding our minds with poor ideas. If this seems absurd, look at the gurus with millions of views and followers. Or see who are the most followed people on Instagram or YouTube. A lot of them are not giving the most insightful content. The frustrating part is that a lot of the algorithms push content that is low-quality content.
Since they get the most attention.
So without proper judgment, we can consume a lot of poor content.
Which infects us with poor ideas.
And if you don't believe it, look at the dating genre. Guys watch dating gurus, and they think they need to be six feet plus, have a six-pack, and make six figures to get girls. And believe they are worthless without these.
However, if these guys spent more time in the real world, they would see the lies. But even then, that's not enough. They and we have to improve the ideas we feed our minds.
How do we do that?
The first step is to reduce our exposure to the news and social media. I know, I know, I sound like an old man.
And I don't care.
Social media and news thrive off getting as much attention as possible. And what gets our attention is the salacious, negative stories or events.
On top of that.
The internet is designed to keep your attention as long as possible. So they will keep feeding you these mind-numbing content to you daily. If you were to take just one thing from this article, it's to reduce your news and social media consumption. That alone would do you wonders since all of the world's negativity won't be flooded in your head.
So for those of you willing to continue this article, read on.
So instead of cutting out something, let's put something into our minds.
And for those of you guessing, I am not mentioning affirmations. Now, I'm not hating on affirmations. If they help, they help.
But I like to be lazier.
Instead of affirmations, I recommend you consume better content in your life.
It's a simple formula: Better content leads to better thoughts and a better mind.
Now, what's better content?
Classical literature and classical films are a great place to start. Although these types of content won't give you 5 reasons for XYZ. They will provide you with something more.
They will give you the truths of life.
I must be smoking something, right?
But hear me out.
Classical works are classical for a reason. They give you the truth or wisdom indirectly. You not only consume them but ponder them. And it's during this process that the wisdom/truths reveal themselves slowly.
Goethe, the great German poet, summarizes this idea better than me:
"It is not given to us to grasp the truth, which is identical with the divine, directly. We perceive it only in reflection, in example and symbol, in singular and related appearances. It meets us as a kind of life which is incomprehensible to us, and yet we cannot free ourselves from the desire to comprehend it."
Classical works are the best medium to indirectly get Life's truths/wisdom.
But we can rely on more than the classics to improve our thoughts. Again, you can stop here, and you would do just fine with limited news/social media consumption and with some more classic works. But I have one more way to help improve your thoughts' quality.
Reduce being around negative people.
If you've been around a debby downer, it can be mentally exhausting. That's why it's crucial to know the people we keep around. They can affect us more deeply than we can comprehend.
Finding encouraging and upbeat people will feel like a breath of fresh air. So as you create and cultivate friendships, make sure it's people who are not negative.
This all sounds nice.
It makes sense to reduce news and social media consumption. And makes even more sense to limit interaction with negative people. But some people will have a bone to pick about the classics.
They say that consuming classic works is boring.
And yes, they are boring, but only in the beginning. The reason why classical works are boring is that we are not used to high-quality content. So it will take some getting used to. But after a little while, you will see that you will much prefer a 500-page classical novel over a TikTok binge.
The greatest thing I got from classical works was the patience for the build-up. Where the protagonist starts from a naive/weaker position. And by going through a journey, they come out with an inherent wisdom we all strive for.
And the best part is not even the end, but the looking back at the protagonist's journey. It gives us a sense of how we should respect life's journey and not look for fast results. Because the journey provides satisfaction far deeper than any quick result.
But I'm rambling now.
Just keep in mind that once you get used to classical works, you will be fond of them. One person who was fond of classic works was Colin Wilson.
In my opinion, Colin Wilson is one of the most underrated philosophers. But anyway, who is he? Colin was a British existentialist philosopher.
He wrote for a living.
And this guy wrote on so many things. A lot of which is odd and some which are excellent. But amidst all that writing, Colin realized the importance of thoughts in our lives.
And I'll leave him to tell you:
"In such moments we recognise the importance of thought. If you are feeling sick, it is easy to make yourself sicker by brooding on it...Again, years later, when I began to suffer a series of panic attacks due to overwork, I had a chance to observe how negative thoughts can drain us of all vital energy and bring us to the brink of nervous breakdown."
Our thoughts affect us more deeply than we can imagine. So we need to be vigilant with what thoughts are in our heads and their sources.
However, some people can take this vigilance a bit too far. Where they go monk mode and become a snob.
I've seen this happen many times.
Where people will only read high-quality books and refuse to buy a tv and watch shows etc. All for the sake of wanting to fill their heads with unique ideas. The only problem is that you can come off as a snob. And it can be hard to relate with others since you do very few relatable things.
There is no point in filling your head with unique ideas only to be alone in the end. So as you take this advice, apply it appropriately to your situation. And above all, follow the path of moderation.
So when I say reduce social media and news consumption, I am not saying to cut it out entirely but to moderate it.
The same with negative people.
You can say hi and have a coffee occasionally, but not spend so much time. All of my content is to help you become a reasonable and well-rounded individual.
Never take anything I say to the extreme.
And to make sure this article is not getting extreme in length, let's summarize.
If we consume low-quality content, then it can produce low-quality thoughts and minds.
The best way to improve the quality of your thoughts and mind is by reducing poor content and consuming better ones.
Reducing news and social media consumption will minimize exposure to negative and salacious content.
Consuming and pondering the classics will improve your mind over time.
Reducing the time you spend around negative people will contribute to getting fewer negative thoughts.
Classics may seem boring, but that's only because we're new to them. Committing to them will help you appreciate them more.
A simple mistake is to go monk mode and not consume or interact with any form of low-quality content and people. Need to be moderate with all of it.
One of the beautiful things about living in the modern day is that we have access to so much information and a wide variety of people. More so than all of our ancestors were exposed to. However, with all this access and freedom, we need to be responsible for it.
We can't consume just any content or build relationships with anybody.
We must judge carefully what we allow in our minds and lives. And in this case, you have the liberty to be just as judgemental as Aoki.
Until next time,
The Charismatic Nerd