Diet of 2020

I’m going on a negativity-free diet this year. That’s right, instead of cutting out carbs or corn-syrup, I’m cutting out negativity. It’s the junk-food of the mind. Negativity comes in many forms: there’s pessimism, skepticism, mockery, dissatisfaction, worry, fear, frustration, outrage, lack & limitation, and whatever else makes for a poor experience.

So whenever my mind serves up a plate of negativity-flavored thoughts, it’ll be a hard pass from me. Now that I’m several decades old, there are better ways to spend my time than knee-deep in negativity. And when I get bored from the lack of stimulation? Tough, I’ll simply sit there in silence with an empty mind. Something besides negativity is bound to enter eventually.

As part of this endeavor, I’ll have to cut out all forms of entertainment that derive their allure from negativity. Nothing scary or too intense, nothing political, legal, or medical, nothing that paints life as fundamentally flawed, nothing that mocks life, essentially nothing that leaves me with a bitter aftertaste. I’ve noticed too many times that the themes I consume as entertainment creep into my everyday life.

I’ll be monitoring what goes into my mind, what’s currently going on in my mind, and what comes out of my mind. At each point, I’ll be steering away from negativity while trying to offer-up positive alternatives OR I’ll simply insist on silence (i.e. If you can’t think anything nice, don’t think anything at all).

Another trick up my sleeve is this: physical punishment. But don’t worry, nothing severe, no flagellation required. This technique actually helped to get rid of my tendency to overreact when startled. I’d literally jump or yell or get upset whenever I was surprised. So whenever that happened, I simply exhaled as much as I could and held my breath until I couldn’t. It provided an annoying consequence for my automatic reaction, and I got startled less and less.

So whenever I notice negativity going in, negativity stewing on the inside, or negativity coming out — exhale and hold until uncomfortable. That’s it. And consider this: a traditional food-based diet coupled with physical exercise typically has denial and discomfort as an integral part of the regimen — so this type of reinforcement is nothing unusual.

Like the cravings of a traditional diet, I’ll likely miss those negative forms of entertainment because they’re the most exhilarating. By no longer allowing high-intensity (but low-quality) forms of enthrallment, my biggest challenge will be boredom. Like fasting, silence will have to fill in some of the gaps. I’m relying on my mind to eventually find wholesomely fun things to do.

So that’s it. The negativity-free diet started when I woke up this morning. I had a LOT less shows to choose from on Netflix though. Perhaps after the diet’s over, I can allow some “junk food” shows into the mix, in moderation — we’ll see. As a more wholesome way to spend my time today, I played the harmonica and went for a walk — both went well. As far as mind-monitoring went, I teased my friend a couple of times and atoned for it since mockery isn’t allowed (exhale and hold).