Fill Your Mind With Great Content

Kyle Smith

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Ask the average person to describe an artist, and you’ll probably hear some of these words: emotional, sensitive, gifted, quirky, high-strung, non-conformist, genius, and many others.

But “thinker” is not usually one of them.

We all think, of course. But we tend to associate the creative process with our emotions and feelings rather than our minds. The truth is that your mind is the source of all your creativity. Therefore, it’s vital that you take good care of your mind by feeding it regularly.

So what kind of content should you put into your mind? These are the six most important types:

1. Books. Choose books that will help you grow and become a better artist and leader. It’s important to read books from a variety of perspectives and subjects. This will keep you fresh and prevent you from getting into a mental rut. You should include great fiction books (and even a few books that aren’t necessarily great, but entertaining) because you need to be inspired by great stories. (If you’re a person of faith, the Bible is the most important book you should be reading.)

2. Podcasts. Podcasts are free and don’t necessarily require extra time. You can listen to them while you’re driving, exercising, or doing other activities. I listen to a variety of podcasts, including some just for fun. As a creative person, don’t limit yourself to content focused on business or productivity.

3. Movies. Movies blend storytelling, moving images, and music to transport us into other worlds. Movies can also change your perspective and give you experiences you can’t get any other way. Movies can speak to your heart and mind while sharpening your creativity.

4. Classes. Classes are a great way to increase your knowledge and skills in a specific area. Over the last couple of years I have taken courses on writing for large websites, self-publishing, online teaching, and business. Some of these were free but others were not. (I don’t think of training as an expense. It’s an investment.) Classes are a great way to get specialized knowledge and stay relevant in your field.

5. Magazines. I subscribe to a few magazines related to business and creativity, but the danger of periodicals is that the content quickly goes out of date. I have moved almost exclusively to reading content online (rather than print magazines), but the print magazines I still read have a lot of value.

6. Blogs. I subscribe to a few dozen newsletters and use the online service unroll.me to “roll them up” into one daily email digest. That way, I can skim through the content without having dozens of emails clog my inbox.

The kind of content you put into your mind will determine your thoughts and actions. Make sure you’re reading, watching, and listening to great content every day.

I love this quote from James Allen’s classic book As a Man Thinketh:

All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. . . . A man’s weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own, and not another man’s; they are brought about by himself, and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man’s. His suffering and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.[i]

Who do you want to be, and where do you want to go? The answer will determine what to put in your mind. Earl Nightingale said it best in his classic work, The Strangest Secret: “We become what we think about.”[ii]

So what are you thinking about?

Questions for Reflection

1. Which of the six types of content listed above do you enjoy the most? Which do you enjoy the least?

2. Do you have a plan for reading and taking in other great content? What would happen if you scheduled just fifteen minutes a day for reading?

3. If you don’t have enough time to read or consume good content, what activities or commitments could you cut from your schedule? Could you stay up a little later or get up a little earlier?

4. How does it feel to realize that your success is the result of your thoughts? Does this make you happy or sad?

[i] James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, accessed April 2, 2015, http://jamesallen.wwwhubs.com/think.htm.

[ii] Earl Nightingale, The Strangest Secret, accessed March 14, 2015, http://www.nightingale.com/articles/the-strangest-secret/.

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I write about writing, productivity, creativity, and much more.

St. Louis, MO
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