Jump Start Right Thinking with a Media Fast
Your consumption of mass media and social media has a tremendous impact on your thinking, whether you realize it or not. You simply cannot break the patterns of negative thinking in your mind unless and until you address your consumption of negative words, sounds, and images through mass media, the Internet, and social media.
To jumpstart a positive outlook, declare a total fast from the media for a period of time. I recommend thirty days, but even a few days will be enough to show you how great a volume of negative thought you receive through these channels, and how much better you feel without them.
Here’s how it works.
- Set a Time to Unplug.
Don’t be afraid to make this challenging. If you think you can’t last longer than a day, set it for a week. Make your goal longer than you think you can tolerate. That’s the first step in breaking this pattern.
- Plan for Necessary Communication.
Consider the minimum communication you must have in order to function in your various roles—in your family, as a student, an employee, or a boss. If you need to be available by phone, keep your phone on; just disable or hide the communications apps. If you need to use the Internet for work, do so. Just be sure that your use is for legitimate work purposes only.
- Pull the Plug.
This will take a bit of time and planning, because these communication tools are woven so tightly into our lives. Shut off the alerts on your phone, and don’t carry it with you every moment. You may want to move the television out of your bedroom or living room to break the habit of switching it on each day.
- Replace the Media with Positive Activities.
Rather than surfing the Internet, read an uplifting book. During your commute, spend time planning your day rather than listening to talk radio. Conversation, recreation, exercise, napping, work around the house: all these are positive alternatives to soaking up the negative thoughts and energy you would otherwise receive through the media.
- Reflect on the Experience.
What aspects of the media did you miss? Why is it so difficult to unplug? What are you learning about yourself? What do you notice in others, now that you’re not constantly wired? What will you want your media experience to look like moving forward?
- Plan Your Reentry.
A media fast is not intended to be permanent. You will return to media consumption at some point, so plan what you’d like your media use to look like. How will you limit the time spent on social media? What will you do to limit or counter the negativity you’ll hear each day through the news? What permanent deletions will you make from your media consumption?
As a warning, your first time consuming media after a fast will be jarring. You’ll realize that you’d been soaking up a lot of negativity—complaints, insults, overbearing advertising, angry rhetoric, and the like. That jarring experience will be a confirmation that you’ve taken positive steps to break the patterns of negative thought in your life.
How do you guard your positive attitude amid all the constant flow of negative media? I’d love to hear about it. Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter!
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