The other day, whilst doing a set of intense one-legged Romanian dead lifts (thank you, Mark Lauren, for your book “You Are Your Own Gym” :-)), I started thinking about how I just haven’t been able to stand watching anything - movies, television, etc. - for the past couple of years. Books and CDs are still big in my life. And believe me, I have watched my share of movies in the past. But this recent aversion to watching brought me to thinking about what comes into my brain from outside as input versus what I creatively put out into the world…so, at the moment, I think of it like this:
INPUT: Information that is generated from an outside source that enters our brains;
OUTPUT: Information that we are putting into the world that originates in our brains
Some examples of input include watching television, reading a book, reading a newspaper, listening to music, or watching a movie. Some examples of output include painting, drawing, composing, writing a book, or creating a computer program.
Debatable activities include live social interaction, participation in social media, playing video games, or performing someone else’s composition on an instrument.
Looking first at the black and white description of input versus output it is clear that input is much more easily accessible to us and requires less energy for quite a high return rate. It can, for example, be highly satisfying to watch a brilliant film on a big screen that has wonderful music and perhaps a moving and inspiring subject. But if we are always drawn to this amazing candy, this fantastic input material of today’s world, and we barely engage in output activities, what does this do with us?
I do not have the answer to this but I can speculate that one very serious concern of too much input is a limitation of individual thinking and our own imaginations. I think when we output the brain works very differently. It is a bit like with a child before they learn to talk - they understand pretty much everything you say to them but cannot yet verbalize their thoughts. That is a crude comparison of input and output but think of this: a person can watch a brilliant Hollywood film and be fascinated by the high level of cinematography, thoroughly enjoy the film music and be appreciative of the complex plot. But could that same person create even one part of this film? And if not, why not? Simply because they were conditioned to think that they do not need to give heed to that aspect of themselves? So to say...because it is “not their job”?
Perhaps they avoid these questions or thoughts because they think that their intellectual and intelligence levels are sufficient…but are they happy? Reading a newspaper, for example, is generally considered an intellectual activity, when in all reality, it is a form of input that can (but does not always) take a form just as low-quality and inaccurate as a bad tv show or news program. It can be intellectual, but one must be careful not to tend towards laziness (aren’t we all a little lazy?) and hide behind the majority’s opinion of what is clever and productive…of what is “enough”. Getting out of your comfort zone is important, and, in my experience, questioning quality and quantity of input could have a significant impact on happiness and creativity.
This idea of input and output is clearly a simplification, but it helps me to grasp the concept of influences on the mind, a concept that I do feel truly influences happiness. And I care a lot about being happy, as I think most people do.