Getting real about artificial fillers–Not just in food, but in life.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we do no service to our bodies when we fill ourselves with junk instead of real food.

For a myriad of reasons, we settle for a short-term fix that may fill the void physically but does very little to nourish our bodies. We sacrifice our well-being in the process.

Why do we do this? Perhaps it is because we do it so continuously and unconsciously as we make decision after decision (or non-decision after non-decision) about the foods that we consume.

We may think about eliminating the hunger pangs or satisfying a food craving, but we don’t often take a step back to look at the big picture of how all of these short term decisions affect our overall health and quality-of-life.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, not only in food but in daily activities.

It is true that the moments of our life make up the whole of our life. I’ve been taking a hard look at how many times I go for the short-term fix or take one unconscious action after another that not only neglects to nourish my quality-of-life but actually depletes it.

The best way to illustrate this point is to share an experience that has caused me to draw a line in the sand.

I don’t necessarily spend an exorbitant amount of time surfing the web, however, I have settled into what you could call a bad habit of looking at Yahoo news. There is something about the whole collection of stories that gives me a small thrill of pleasure. Probably four or five days out of seven, I would scroll the storylines and choose some articles to click through and read. This activity could take a half an hour or even an hour of my time.

Sometimes I would find some really great, uplifting stories and interesting topics, and I suppose that’s what kept me coming back. Almost like the thrill of the hunt, I never knew what I would find and that in itself was fun. On the flipside though, a good portion of the article topics were negative, and even if I didn’t click through to read the story, those headlines were flashing into my awareness and, however briefly, impacting my mood. I’ve been having mixed feelings about this guilty pleasure of mine for the past few months. I knew that it wasn’t really serving me and yet I wasn’t quite ready to let it go.

And then I clicked on the story that changed everything. The headline was about a woman who had to break bad news to her friend on her friend’s wedding day. It was click bait and it worked. I had to satisfy my curiosity about what the bad news could be. Did the friend have cancer and, if so, why in the world would she divulge that on her best friend’s wedding day? Did she need to warn the bride about the groom’s infidelity? Junk, I know, and yet I was compelled to click through and get the trashy scoop.

I read through the entire article to discover that it was about these two women who had had matching stuffed animals as childhood friends. The bride had asked her friend to bring the stuffed animal so that they could pose and re-create a picture from the past. The “bad news” was that the bride’s friend couldn’t find her stuffed animal!

I felt like an idiot for wasting seven minutes of my life to read something so ridiculous. As I glanced at the comment section, it was clear that I was not alone. Many people called out the author and Yahoo news for the blatant misrepresentation and pointless “article”.

Personally, I would like to thank the author and Yahoo news for giving me such a gift. I now have absolute clarity and an indisputable reminder of the folly of wasting my precious time on junk.

This experience is doing more than causing me to finally let go of the unproductive, unsatisfying habit of reading Yahoo news. It is offering me an analogy to ponder and explore all the areas of my life in which I may be doing the same thing.

What other ways am I settling for artificial fillers instead of real nourishment?

–Quickly touching base via text with people I care about, when I could dial the phone instead and have a real conversation?

–Opting for the default “dinner and a movie” instead of trying something different and creating new life experiences for myself?

–Filling my days with productivity instead of purpose?

I recently came across a great quote that is relevant to this discussion:

“The space for what you want is already filled with what you’ve settled for instead.”

Wow.

I am taking a conscious look at my life. I have set clear intentions and powerful goals for myself, and I want to ensure that my pathway to getting there is not already filled with all of the unconscious decisions and activities that I am settling for instead.

Perhaps all of this awareness is coming to the forefront as a result of the intention that I set for myself a few months back. As the immediate focus of my life, I have set the following intention:

My intention is to live joyfully in an authentic space in which every thing has been consciously chosen.

I was very specific in my choice of wording for that intention. I listed every thing as two words to emphasize the process of careful discernment.

Also, when I consider an authentic space, I mean both my physical living environment and the space of my life. I want every physical belonging to be in my environment because I have consciously chosen it. But only considering physical belongings is not going far enough. I want every thing (ie habit, decision, activity, relationship etc.) in my life because I have consciously chosen it.

It sounds like a monumental process and it is. It will require time, effort, energy, and conscious attention–over and over again. But it will be worth it and it already is.

So, I hereby declare that I have now consciously chosen to remove “artificial fillers” and mindless junk from my life…beginning with Yahoo “news.”

 

(Post script: I wrote this piece six weeks before publishing it. I have not visited Yahoo news once in that time and I have not had any desire to do so.)

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