Tim Ferriss’ book, [amazon_link id="0307465357" target="_blank" ]The 4-Hour Workweek[/amazon_link] is full of insightful little nuggets. It’s also full of some garbage. But still, lots of little gold. Some of his points don’t really tie back to the main thrust of the book and were lost in the inevitable shuffle of people trying to get rich quick (which, again was NOT the main point of the book). One such point is the need to go on an Information Diet.
At first glance, this feels rather optional in the grand scheme of lifestyle design. Certainly not as critical as finding income or quitting your job. But that would be wrong. Going on an Information Diet is actually quite critical. Here’s why.
You are what you focus on. If you think about gymnastics every day, you are going to be a gymnast. If you think about software, you’ll be a software developer. If you watch TV all day, your going to a paranoid, fearful, materialist driven individual that has no mental space left creative or even just passive thought.
This is no exaggeration. The passive action of watching TV is devastating to your free time (the main reason Tim argues to get rid of it) but more importantly, it fills your head up with useless thoughts, fears and desires.
I didn’t realize how much mental space it takes up until leaving on our trip. We had canceled our TV over a year ago at home but we still lived surrounded by the culture of TV. At our friends, over the Internet, at restaurants. Back home in Toronto, it’s everywhere.
On the road, we rarely watch it. What’s more, the TV media culture is much weaker in general the further you get away from the first world.
I’ve recently started reading Tom Hodgkinson’s [amazon_link id="0241143217" target="_blank" ]How to Be Free[/amazon_link] in which he argues, among other things, that in order to live your life free from the shackles of the 9-5 debt fueled working world, you need to turn off the consumerism inputs that prey on your insecurities and desires.
Want to save money? Stop watching TV, reading glossy magazines or the local newspaper. Not because they are particularly expensive (which they are) but more because they feed you with desire to consume.
This echoes nicely my experience while traveling and so it would seem Tim’s as well. In [amazon_link id="0241143217" target="_blank" ]How to Be Free[/amazon_link], Tom argues that instead of consumption, you should focus on production. Instead of watching a TV show, put on a theater production with your family. Instead of buying a newspaper, write poetry.
A simple way to do this is, as I have found, is to simply sell your possessions and hit the road. Write a blog. Start a book. Program. Draw.
And above all, shutoff whatever consumerism noise manages to creep in, even while on the road. Starved of useless noise, the act of producing becomes easier. Your brain isn’t full of useless material desires and instead is free to indulge in its own creative productions.
But you can’t do this if you have no time and a brain full of mass media. So cut the cord and travel. Focus on producing things instead of consuming them. You’ll be happy that you did.