You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn
Back then, you’ve spent most of your time with your friends from school. Your social circle was limited to 20-30 other children that were together with you in class. There was no internet, at least not in the form we know it today. The amount of information you were exposed to was very small compared to today.
In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. Then he posted about it on Facebook.
Your day probably starts with an alarm clock and an Instagram feed. Some of my days start like this, even though I try to get rid of both the alarm clock and the morning Instagram ritual. Then your day probably includes breakfast with newspaper (if you are from the seventies) or yet another social feed. Then a car and the same song from yesterday on the radio, the lyrics of which you subconsciously know.
We use only 10% of our brains.
This subtitle is actually misleading. Scientific experiments proved that we use 100% of our brain because every part of the brain emits electronic impulses.
On my last birthday, my fiancee made a surprise for me, and apart from arranging breakfast with her and my family and dinner with my friends, she also booked me a sports car driving session. The experience itself was amazing but for the context of this post, I’d like to outline one specific thing I’ve learned from the instructor.
He told me something like:
You see, most drivers focus on the car in front of them, they try to follow it and predict what will happen on the road based on this car. It slows down, you slow down. It speeds up, you speed up. But this is looking one step ahead approach. The amount of information you have about the road and driving conditions based on the car in front of you. Professional drivers, however, need to think more than one step ahead. They need to plan their speed before the road turns or goes in curves. And by focusing on the car in front of them, they lose a lot of environment information. What they do instead is focus on the furthest point on the road.
I was stumbled. “How is it possible? If you focus on the furthest point on the road, don’t you miss everything that is in front of you?” – I’ve asked. “No” – he said. “We actually underestimate the ability of our brain and peripheral vision. Try to focus on the furthest point in the road and try to predict where the road is going, where are the turns and how sharp they are. And you will see, that subconsciously you won’t miss any information.”
I tried. At first, it was scary and uncomfortable. But after a few minutes, I got it. I understood that even if you focus consciously on the furthest point on the road, your peripheral vision grasps the entire road conditions.
Everything matter even if you think it’s not.
In today’s modern world, we are no longer an average of 5 people. We are the average of our social feeds, the music we listen to and the people who surround us.
Your Instagram feed matters. What you see there – shapes who you are. The music you listen to, even if you think you don’t hear the words – they matter. A singer that sings about how all men are assholes – will eventually shape girls minds to think that all men are assholes. The Instagram feed of a guy that laughs at women – will eventually shape boys minds into disrespecting women.
We think that those are just pictures or words – but they have power. People who read the news, tend to be more paranoid and think that the world is a terrible place. Everything we see or hear, have power. With great power – comes great responsibility. And it’s our responsibility to filter the information we want to be exposed to.
Same jeans, same t-shirt.
In my twenties I was depressed. One of the ways my depression showed itself was that I didn’t really care about how I dress and look. Don’t get me wrong, I showered and brushed my teeth constantly, but I wore the same jeans, same t-shirt, and same sneakers every day and replaced the sneakers only when they got a big hole in them.
One day I decided – no more. I want to look sharp. At first, I tried to put on dress shoes and button-up shirts, but it looked funny and I felt ridiculous in it. The whole process of adjusting my outfit took a good several years and eventually I’ve started to get compliments that I dress well from my family, friends, friends of friends and even work colleagues.
You probably think now that I understand how color matching works, that I shop at brand stores and have a personal outfit consultant. But no, it’s way simpler than that. My Instagram feed is filled with accounts of so-called “man fashion”. Those are people who make money promoting different outfits or just guys that dress well. And the only thing I know consciously about fashion is that matching 2 colors is good. Everything else is my subconsciousness that was exposed to good information from Instagram.
Information and responsibility.
Our daily habits of checking the news, following stupid Instagram accounts or listening to music that disrespect men or women – might look like something minor. “Oh come’ on, I don’t even listen to the words!” – you can say. But I say, maybe you don’t – but your brain does. And we might think of ourselves as smart and sophisticated creatures, and we are indeed, but somewhere, deep inside, we are no different than a dog. You tell it “sit” once and it ignores you. You tell it “sit” twice, it will be confused but will sit. You tell it “sit” three times and it will sit.
The same thing happens to us. There is no harm in reading the news once a month. But on a constant basis, it will rewire your brain. It will teach it to look for the negative in the world, seeing only the terrible things that happen in the world. But the world is not terrible. Yes, there are terrible things happening in the world. But there are also good things happening. There is a lot of joy and happiness in the world. And the news, they do not reflect that. News is not the source of good things.
But then, we go to the gym every few days and do exercises with unimportant weights. We read 1 book per month that teaches us something new. We play a few notes every day on the guitar. And eventually – our muscles will grow. Our intelligence will rise. Our musical skills will perfect.
We are who we are because of the things we do (and don’t do) over time. Skill, intelligence, strengths – they all products of small, unimportant actions multiplied by time.
And guess what? It works both ways. Going to the gym will build muscle – eating junk food will build fat and disease. Reading deep books that challenge our beliefs will build intelligence – reading the news will build fear. Listening to podcasts will widen our knowledge – listening to hateful music will build hate in us.
Think about it the next time you are exposed to information.