As I leave the swanky raw juice bar near my house on my way to work, I couldn’t help but be struck by the clientele. The ultra-fit guys grabbing a protein shake with all organic ingredients, whose iPhone headphones were still blasting garbage songs about bimbos, big cars, and money from their workout. Then, the moms so concerned about their children’s nutrition, who sat there as a family consuming the breakfast sandwich made with beef from grass-fed cows, eggs from free-range chickens, and the like, who sat there flipping through a current issue of US Weekly, reading the asinine stories of celebrities’ love lives, or the other drama in Hollywood. How about the group of friends standing there, collectively moaning and groaning about their low-level job that they hate, their dead-end boyfriend they just don’t have the heart to break up with, and the frustration with a family member, as they sip their delicious, fresh-fruit smoothie, with a wheatgrass shot added for good measure. There’s something seriously wrong with this picture.
As a society, we’re now fundamentally obsessed with our own nutrition, and yet feed our minds the exact opposite of a “healthy diet.” null The way most people feed theirs, I’d categorize it as a “wasteland.”
Think about how you spend your day at the office. Before you leave (or perhaps even the night before), you probably pack a breakfast, lunch, and a couple of snacks to keep you energized, full, and alert throughout the day – without ignoring your waistline. You eat those intermittently throughout the day, but what do you do intermittently throughout the day? When you finish a task and have a few minutes to spare, do you check Facebook? Perhaps peruse ESPN’s homepage? Check out cat GIFs? Read a fashion post? What if you spent those same 10 minutes and wrote a thank-you note to a colleague who went above and beyond or sent your spouse a love note? What if you watched a short TED talk on a subject that has always interested you? How about reading an article on a current issue in your city? Feed your mind the equivalent of that wheatgrass shake – not poison.
Equally important as the content we consume (or opt to not consume) is the way in which we structure our own productivity. Your mind needs time to process and enough time for you to get everything done. So, rather than racing through life in reaction mode, get a grasp on your calendar by planning ahead. Take 15 minutes each Sunday night to review the upcoming week. Craft your schedule in a way that works best for you. Plan how to make the upcoming week most efficient. In addition to your Sunday ritual, take five minutes each evening to review the day ahead. The few minutes you spend looking forward will drive productivity and reduce anxiety. As a result, during your actual work day (or time at home spent with family and friends), your mind is free to devote 100% attention to the task at hand, rather than feeling frazzled about the 12 other things on your mental to-do list.
Next time you opt for apple slices instead of a donut, I applaud you – keep up the great work! Alongside that piece of fruit, I’d encourage you to feed your brain as healthfully as you’ve chosen to nourish your body. Engaging, thoughtful, meaningful content. Positive people with which you surround yourself. Actionable plans to grow your game to the next level. Structured lifestyle to help you perform at your best. This is the recipe for a healthy diet for our brains – try it next time, with a shot of wheatgrass added in.