“If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you’d be furious. Yet you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along, so they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled — have you no shame in that?”EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 28
We intuitively understand that we have to protect our bodies.
Even kids get this — uninvited touch is unacceptable, and anyone trying to exert control over your physical self needs to be told to stop immediately.
This is an especial point of emphasis in offices these days — keep your hands to yourself at all times, no exceptions. Be aware of your physical safety and what you’re comfortable with.
But for some reason, we don’t exercise that same level of caution when it comes to our minds. We don’t protect our minds from abuse.
We let all kinds of external influences touch our psyches, and we often aren’t even aware of the effects they’re causing. The Daily Stoic today has a great roundup of the ways that social media, technology, and personal devices intrude into our mental space — and how we open the door without a conscious realization that we’re even doing it.
These external influences don’t care about our psychological health, they’re driven by other motivations. And we don’t think to protect our minds. We just let these forces into our brain — often without a second thought.
Life is short, we know this. We need to be stingy with our time and more selective with the energies that we allow in, so that we don’t open our mind up to abuse — or even simply wasted energy!
We’re not puppets. We don’t have to accept every force, every source of information that wants to enter our mindspace. We have a choice, and we can choose to say, “no thanks, not this time.”
Cut out the mindless
Personally, one of the goals that I’ve set for myself this month reads like this: “No mindless web”. This is because I have tendency to read a whole bunch of articles on the internet, every day.
Often these are news articles, because I’m a news junkie. But they’re also random clickbait informational pages that catch my interest for a second.
But it’s all mindless, and none of it is important, and really none of it has any bearing on my daily life. It’s not information that I need to know, and it doesn’t help me make smarter decisions. It certainly doesn’t make me feel any happier. It definitely wastes my time.
So I’m trying to cut that out of my life, and reclaim my time, my energy, and my mental peace. I get a peculiar sense of malaise and unease when I read a bunch of pointless articles in a day. That needs to stop.
I’m trying to work on not obsessing over every global occurrence. It’s okay to be clueless, perhaps even an improvement! I have to protect my mind.