Without noticing it, we've let ever-present-never-ending CONTENT shape too much of our thoughts, instead of paying attention to our inner voice.
My days frequently look like this: wake up, scroll through my phone, check Instagram and email to be up to date on what's going on with friends and at work. Put on a podcast as I trudge to the bathroom, listening to the news or some light conversation to warm up while I get ready for the day. I usually continue listening to podcasts during the commute to work, going for something a little more informative, to feel like I'm engaging with something new and learning while moving along. I put music on at work to drown out my colleagues, and then put a TV show on for my commute home, a little treat for getting through the long workday. I hate silence, so I'll turn the TV on while I'm making dinner — maybe it's sports, maybe it's my tenth re-watch of Gilmore Girls. I'll spend some more time scrolling through social media, and then put on a comforting podcast to send me off to sleep.
Constant stimulation and access to fantastic entertainment has decreased our willingness to listen to ourselves. While I'm spending the majority of my downtime during the day consuming content—TV shows, podcasts, Instagram posts, motivational articles—I also constantly feel the pressure of not consuming enough. A colleague just recommended a TV show, my friend wants me to watch this movie so we can talk about it, I downloaded that podcast on blockchain months ago and still haven't gotten around to listening to it...somehow, despite consuming all this content, I still feel like I need more. I might be missing out on something brilliant. Always looking for more, more more. And rarely do I spend time with myself. I haven't kept a journal in years, even though this was a daily cathartic practice just a few years ago. Honestly I don't even use pen and paper anymore because it’s not as efficient as a keyboard. I don't zone out either—if I'm staring blankly out the window I'll realize the emptiness and put on a podcast or start scrolling. Clearly I wasn't doing anything productive, so why not learn something, or be engaged in some part of pop culture? Without even realizing it, I've been cutting out any time simply spent thinking my own thoughts.
"I think, therefore I am." If we're always engaging with content, it's like putting our brain trains on someone else's tracks. It's easy to glide along passively, following the path laid out, but too much of this and we find that we don't know where we're going anymore. Charting our own course and being able to respond to the twists and turns along the way means that we have to take our brain off the tracks. I love that we live in the era of peak TV and the podcast explosion, but if I let myself continue down their paths, I'll lose sight of where I really want to be. We all want to learn from experts and thought leaders, take their advice and become who we want to be. But for a lot of life, there is no magic shortcut to get to the goal, there is just hard work. And honestly, the idea that we're so comfortable letting others lead our thoughts should feel very uncomfortable. It certainly does to me.
At its core, the Content Cleanse is about regaining trust in ourselves. When we know ourselves deeply, when we're clear on our priorities and values, then we can trust ourselves to make the right decision. Our intuition and gut are aligned with what we know guides our lives. That's control, that's trusting ourselves. That's peace of mind, knowing we can handle the surprises life inevitably throws our way. This is the course that I charted for myself: one that removes all the other voices clanging around in my head, and tries to focus on finding my own. Strengthening my own. Taking an active approach. If this resonated with you, let's do it together. Let's support each other and provide some positive peer pressure for our own Content Cleanse. Here's to finding ourselves, again and again.