Information. In-Formation. What you take in shapes your formation.
What kind of person do you want to be at the end of the day? How about in a month from now? How about in five years? Imagine the qualities and characteristics of this amazing person you intend to be. Imagine your form. Now think about all the media you are surrounded by. Will the information you take in form the person of your dreams?
Since what you take in shapes your formation, the only thing stopping you from leveling up are stronger information filters. Think about any sport. The best coaches say to watch how the pros play as practice; the visual information of a professional golfer swinging is what shapes the performance of a novice. Same thing goes for music; listening to virtuoso musicians helps a student to bridge gaps in their abilities. If we watched bad examples for our hobbies, we would never improve. So why aren’t we more conscious about the rest of the information we take in?
Everything we perceive is information, whether visual, auditory, or otherwise, and what we take in is what we become. Here are ten information filters to help you shape a conscious life:
1. Does it encourage me to be a better human?
This filter limits any music or media that clashes with the person you want to be at the end of the day. If you really want to be a gangbanger, and if your greatest happiness lies in degrading women, then by all means continue to listen to the music that glorifies that life. If not, consider searching out better media. It’s hard to do because most of the popular options for music and TV are worthless, but if you search, you will find.
2. Would silence be better?
This filter is what all great musicians use to refine their compositions. Since your life is your greatest composition, try asking yourself whether a contemplative silence might be better than the noise from your earbuds or speakers. If your inner voice is more appealing than whatever content you are listening to, you’ll automatically look for higher quality information.
3. Is it truthful?
This filter is tricky because it excludes almost 98% of news channels. But if the information you take in is not truthful, then you won’t grow into your full potential. Just like lies prevent meaningful relationships with other people, untruthful information will compromise your relationship with yourself.
4. Is it useful?
What can I take away from this information? What is the overall message? Will it help me to get better at x, y, or z? Is it good for relaxing when I’m stressed? Will I learn how to be a better husband or wife, or mother or father? If the information is of no use to the person you want to be, then find something better. The process is hard but rewarding, like pruning a garden.
5. Is it uplifting?
Does this encourage me to keep my chin up even when things get tough? Is the message something I can come to when things look hopeless? Does it reveal the goodness and decency of humanity? If not, you can either find something better, or consciously choose not to be uplifted.
6. Is it inspiring?
Does this spark creative ideas for me to act on and shape a better world with? Am I inclined to more actively pursue my passions and talents through this information? Is this energizing me to create a brighter future through my gifts?
7. Is it challenging?
This universe is so immense, but we tend to get trapped in tiny world views when our perspectives aren’t challenged. So will this information challenge you to think outside of the box, even if that is uncomfortable? If not, the real world might pass you by, and your happiness with it. Life is where the challenges are; filter your information accordingly.
8. Would you want your kids exposed to this?
If sleaziness and raunchiness are part of growing up, please hand me my ba-ba (translate, milk bottle). If the content is suggestive of adultery, or behavior that would limit a family’s growth and success, what is the point in watching it? When you question whether a kid should watch or listen to “x” program, think about the needs of the kid in you. If you believe in lasting love, don’t let your information compromise that.
9. Does it promote the dignity and respect of men and women?
If the information makes people out as objects for pleasure or lust, what good can it possibly do you? If you don’t consent to being dehumanized or hypersexualized, filter your media accordingly. Bad information corrupts our relationship standards and invites lovers who will use us only for pleasure or comfort.
10. Is it part of the mission for world peace?
This might be the most important filter because it forces you to think of your actions in terms of peace or war. Is your peaceful world built on happy families, committed marriages, and courageous people who do right even when it is the hardest thing? If your information conflicts with that peaceful world, it will also prevent you from adding to it.
Filtering your information can be scary at first because it excludes so many of the things that give comfort to a person. Most of our information is like a security blanket; we cling on to the music, movies and media that make us feel safe. But the question is, does your blanket have smallpox? These filters will help you decide, and it is up to you summon the courage to change.
Featured photo credit: NEC-conference-35 via flickr.com