It's Not "You Are What You Eat"...

While the maxim "you are what you eat" is not without value, it misses the much larger picture.

Yes, food plays a role in what you become, but I think there's a better phrase to capture not only what you become, but also who you become:


The people you spend time with. The books and blogs you read. The music you listen to. The various news and media bits that make you squeal in excitement to consume.

All those influences, over time, imbue qualities into your mind and person, shaping and molding who you become. For better or worse, and whether you like it or not.

And this doesn't take place solely through voluntary consumption, but involuntary consumption, as well. For example, spending long periods of time around toxic, negative individuals may very well be tantamount to secondhand smoking.

The inverse is also true: you don't become what you don't ingest.

Thus, it's not enough to avoid "bad stuff," but it's of paramount importance to make a daily effort to ingest the "good stuff." You can't just sit there and expect positive things to happen.

Just like you won't get stronger unless you lift weights, you won't grow in wisdom and character unless you make a point to be prudent with your intake selections, and persevere in doing so even when you don't feel like it. It's much easier to lay on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's binging on Breaking Bad or House of Cards than it is to immerse yourself in an intellectually challenging endeavor or to have real conversation with somebody who sharpens you.

And hey, I love ice cream and a well-written show as much as the next guy, so don't email me in a fit of rage. I get it. But look at the patterns. How do you regularly choose to spend your time and energy?

The news is terrible. I refuse to watch, read, or listen to the news. It's probably the worst possible form of junk food one can consume and it ranks right up there with live hand grenades and pufferfish in terms of things I'd enjoy to swallow.

Here are some questions that you must ask yourself each day:

Who am I choosing to spend my time with?

What book or books am I currently reading? Am I currently reading anything at all?

What could I be spending my time doing or learning rather than checking email or social media for the 25th time?

How we manage our daily ingestion is very telling....I believe it speaks to how we manage the other areas of our lives. And there's a lot of credence to the notion that the only difference between who we are now and who we will be five years from now are the books we read (or don't read) and the people we interact with.

In the present day and age of hyperconnectivity, we all ingest roughly the same amount of "stuff" each day. So the difference between the successful (however you want to define that) and the unsuccessful is not the how much, but the what.

Examine the architecture of your typical day, or your typical week. Take an honest look at what you consume.

Maybe it's time to remove the junk food.