“You are what you consume.”
― Jelani Clay
Since I posted my blog last month, war has erupted in the Middle East and thousands upon thousands of lives have been lost. We are inundated with information and images chronicling the atrocities by and through all forms of media day in and day out. Some of us may feel a sense of responsibility to ingest large amounts of this information and imagery for various reasons. We may want to show solidarity or bear witness to the events from a remote location. And in addition to the events happening in other parts of the world, in the United States, we continue to navigate our own tragedies, many of which have become commonplace: alarmingly high rates of homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, suicide and and all manner of homicides. For many, hope seems elusive, to say the least.
Though I am not a psychologist, a psychiatrist or a therapist, I am a human who has been able to navigate adversity with my sense of hope intact. People often ask me how I have been able to retain a positive outlook despite having to walk through some very difficult moments and experiences, some intensely personal and private, and some collective and shared.
The answer is mindset management. In addition to holding tightly to my faith, I vigilantly guard my mind. Just as we are what we eat, what we ingest is what we become. What we put into our hearts and minds matters. The media that we consume, the books that we read, the people with whom we choose to spend our time, the music to which we listen, all have tremendous impact on our sense of emotional well-being. This is not to say that we should not remain aware of world events and extend love and show empathy toward our fellow humans. Quite the contrary. I believe that it is our responsibility to show care toward other humans who are navigating tragedy--both directly and indirectly. And if we are able to lend a helping hand, it is our duty to do so. However, we cannot expect that constant inundation with negativity will bode well for our mental well-being over time. It will eventually take its toll. I believe this is especially true for young people.
I encourage you to guard your heart and your mind. Be intentional about the time you spend ingesting difficult and/or tragic events. Give yourself the space and grace to rest, both physically and mentally. Allow yourself to experience joy and celebrate the good in the world and in your life.