Mindfully Trump Your Anger

Mindful Minute Up Front: 

Experiment with an Information Diet: minimize your intake of news & politics to 5 minutes a day OR batch input to once a week. Optimize for your happiness, not media ratings. Experiment for one measly week. Focus on what you can control, not media and habits that are manipulating your emotional state. Be educated without bathing in intellectual gossip. With awareness calm your mind, not your citizenship. 


Where your Mind Goes, Energy Flows! 

Imagine you're 90, reflecting on your awesome life. You realize that you have spent a total of 5-10 years on news and Facebook!

Do you want most of it back? Sorry baby and cat photos, but I do.  

So whether you cheer for the red or blue team, are you happier spending hours and hours each day on political news? Not validated in that you're right and they are wrong, but truly joyful? Is your emotional state enhanced so that you're a better parent, friend, or citizen? Are you learning anything of substance from the clickbait? More importantly, are you influencing the issue?  

If my MSNBC addicted mother is any indicator, probably a YUUUGE NO! Political junkies, take a few deep breaths. Just try to keep an open mind and ensure that vein in your forehead doesn't explode. 

With a few concepts and a Life Hack Experiment, I believe we can enjoy a better life now and for our 90 year old bionic selves.

Five lifeTIME years on NEWS & facebook?!  

Your money is precious, your time is priceless.

I am not arguing for ignorance. Nor complacency. An informed Democracy matters. Protecting rights matters. Making your voice heard matters. Resisting matters. 

But we need balance. Yes resisting, but what about resisting the psychological hacks by tech companies on our brains? Where is the line between being educated VS. being addicted? Is 30 hrs/mo OK? How about 90? 150 hours? There is a point of diminishing returns on your scarcest asset, TIME.

We should consciously decide how much is too much, not let anxiety and algorithms decide it for us. 

The bar chart below shows life-time hours spent on news and facebook based on daily consumption of 1, 2, or 3 hours. Two hours = 5 years! That's fucking insane.  

Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 6.43.22 PM.png

Facebook Doesn't Give a Shit About You

'We should use the brain, not let it use us'! 

I know I have had that WTF moment. A moment of non stimulation comes. And then I reach for my pocket like a gun slinger in the Wild West. Time to check some app for the 10th time that day. It's fucking scary, we are slowly becoming programmed bots acting without conscious thought.

All for a dopamine hot fudge sundae of ego stroking, self-righteousness, identity validation, and entertainment. But I also feel a bit empty and guilty, just like when I'm staring at the bottom of an empty ice cream tub.  Shit, where did it all go?

Now a days, we are obese 500lb digital media binge eaters. Being played by the media and our "newsfeed." The smartest brains of a generation are designing algorithms to steal our time. To keep us hooked!

Facebook vein addiction.jpg

People tend to escape from reality by over consuming food, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, porn etc. Our brains crave comfort. And in this case, news and social media are just another filler of the void.  

Even FACEBOOK NOW ADMITS IT's not good for our well being. 

This FUCKIng Traffic #is not Normal!

 Some will say, "Yes, but I am an informed citizen! We can't sit idly by; we need to fight for our rights! Now more than ever". I say bullshit. How does two hours a day of politics help? I think you're inefficient. Do one hour a week and still be "informed". 

The crux of the issue is this. Is the news entertainment to you? Or information to keep an informed democracy? 

If it's the latter, then ask yourself: Can I change any of this even if "This is not normal"? Per Epictetus, our energy should flow to things we can control and influence.  

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are EXTERNALS NOT UNDER MY CONTROL, and which have to do with the CHOICES I ACTUALLY CONTROL. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own
— Epictetus, Discourses 2.5.4

For most scenarios categorized as "news", it's like a stand still traffic jam. A total cluster fuck, but totally out of your control. So why expend negative energy and your precious time? Does your Facebook rant change anything?  

Volunteer. March. Call your Congress person. Don't just protest to your news-feed calling Trump a dumb ass. A media binge of "daily news" only gives you your daily fix, it changes nothing. It's a fall sense of control, one which ironically gives you more anxiety. 

Tribal Identity OR Informed Citizen?

So why do we consume a product that makes us feel worse?

Ahh that beauty and evolutionary baggage of our 2 million year old monkey brain. With our deep tribal and social roots, we love validating "our team". It's a sick game we play on ourselves. And today's media companies exploit loopholes of psychology and neuroscience to pray on this. Keeping us hooked. Feeding us variable rewards of fear, anger, and anxiety. And sadly, we eat this shit up. Like the zombies at slot machines, we scroll and scroll.

Where is the mindful moment in this Thesis

Per the ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus, focus your energies more on what you can directly control and influence. And less about the hysteria and gossip of today's "Breaking News." 

Thus experiment with an Information Diet. Like good design, a lot of times the power is not what you add, but in what you remove! Remember Don't take anything I say seriously. But test it out directly and see for yourself! Do it for 90 year old bionic you. 

Zen Rant Experiment: the Information diet 

1. Check the news/Facebook for 5 minutes max per day for one week!

Sounds crazy, but try it for one week! Ohh liberation. Great apps like Quality Time can be your enforcer! Ensure nothing critical happened. When something of substance does arise, then act.

2. And if you can't put the drugs down, try batching your reading to once a week (e.g. Google Alerts).

With batching, I think you will see how unimportant, time insensitive, and redundant most of this "BREAKING NEWS" is. And this way you're not in some political black hole (although it's warm and cozy in there).

3. Practice being aware WHILE you consume media.  

When you're about to click an article or open Facebook, PAUSE.  Break the habit loop. Try to feel the emotions in your heart. Is it ego, self righteousness, or anxious boredom? Or is ti positive such as creativity, learning, and compassion? with this awareness comes power. It;s like realizing ohh im just lonely, i don't really want that chocolate cake.  

4. Ask can I control this dynamic? Is this information I would relearn 10 years from now?

Will a protest or call to Congress potentially change this? Or am I just validating "me" and escaping from reality to fill time? 

5. Consume Less, Live More

Enjoy your new found freedom of more time and less stress. Put the screens down and go on a walk with loved ones. Explore that passion project. Connect and contribute to your physical community. Volunteer, mentor, organize, learn, and grow.

With all the "Craziness" of today, realize that even if you're in the bottom 1% of America, you're still in the top 1% of the world. 

Be Grateful. Be Compassionate. Be in the moment.

  ~ Alf

PS: Let me know the experiment goes! And before sending any scornful comments, try the experiment first hand!