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What you consume determines the quality of your flame

It’s no revelation that a diet of junk food nudges us towards obesity, laziness, and malnourishment. And if we don’t consume physical activity or get enough sleep—our energy levels and focus wane.

More than just physiologically, we consume mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Garbage in means garbage out.

Spend ample time around a toxic person or situation, and their energy negatively impacts you. At best, it drains your willpower and resolve. At its most insidious, it transforms you into an avatar of negativity as well.

Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.” The time we spend consuming other people’s thoughts and personalities defines us as well. Even though it goes much farther than just the five people we spend the most time with.

If a mind is filled solely with unfiltered junk of reality TV, Pornhub, Netflix-and-chill, and dopamine hijacking infinity of the social media feeds and modern video games… what else can it produce than junk thoughts? If it even moves past stupor to create anything at all.

That’s not to say asceticism is required. “Everything in moderation” is the path of balance. To be moderate is to be a curator. Curate your consumption. Curate what you eat, curate how you spend your time, and curate what reaches your senses (and subsequently, your mind). To the best of your ability, learn to curate your emotional and hormonal states.

To be able to curate well, one must practice mindful self-awareness. Without it, we get stuck in stale subconscious patterns and habits. Mindfulness comes from exercising non-judgmental introspection and contemplation. Non-judgmental, though, doesn’t mean void of critique. The goal is to observe as a detached examiner, not play judge doling out punishment or self-flagellation. Feeding the ego with negative emotions is an addiction that dulls the calmness that’s so essential to us all.

A self-critique is objective and unemotional. It is a descriptive analysis that doesn’t shy away from scrutinizing problem areas to find solutions.

Whereas being self-judgmental is emotionally loaded. Judgment is focused on harassment and justification, more so than problem-solving. It is the over-consumption of negative emotions. If you feel dread, anxiety, anger, regret, shame… while self-inspecting, then you’re not really inspecting. You’re feeding the histrionic, sensational aspects of self.

On the other side of emotional gluttony is the complete lack of self-insight. A dedication to avoid inspection, to never glean beneath the surface of the self, to not see what makes you tick and why… It is the way of the happy-go-lucky fool—deeply entrenched in exclusively positive emotions. The fool’s addiction to feeling good makes him stumble around blindly.

The fool cannot deal with anything sinister or dark within themselves (and subsequently with the world around them). But the darkness always lurks beneath the surface, and if it is never embraced it has a way of working itself onto the surface through unconscious behavior. It’s best to consume it, a nibble at a time before it consumes you.

To mindfully consume is more than just the beginning of wisdom. It’s a necessity.