When I was a kid, we had a cassette (wow that dates me!) that played this catchy little ditty I still find running through my head:
Input, output, what goes in is what comes out
Input, output, that is what it’s all about
Input, output your mind is a computer whose
Input, output daily you must choose.
It’s tacky and catchy and gets stuck in your head in all the annoying ways (for the full 80’s vibe, you can hear the song on youtube – you’re welcome) but it’s also true.
Pursuing Mental Health
If you want to pursue mental health, you’ve got to pay attention to what you fill your mind with.
The Apostle Paul had a little more elegant way of putting it:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
It matters what we think about. It matters what we fill our minds with. It matters what kind of exposure our minds get to garbage or excellent & praiseworthy things.
We can’t avoid all the garbage – I just have to walk down the street to expose my ears to filthy language from neighbours without filters, or drive a few blocks to pass multiple billboards with lower standards than I’d prefer. God is good, and gives us grace for the unavoidable. But the stuff we choose to consume makes a big difference. Choosing to fill our minds deliberately with truth, beauty, purity and excellence is the best way to keep our minds in good shape.
And let’s be honest: not nearly everything put out by the Christian market is “excellent” or “praiseworthy.” Just because it has an evangelical stamp on it, doesn’t mean it’s fit for us to fill our minds with.
How do we fill our minds with excellence?
- Listen to podcasts that are uplifting or inspiriting.
- Read excellent books – the kind that make you want to tell others about the book because it was so thought-provoking, or inspirational, or creative or life-changing – that’s what praiseworthy means.
- Listen to good music. The kind that is noble and pure, whether rap or jazz or rock or country. (No, just kidding. Don’t listen to country. There’s never a good reason to listen to country.)
It’s one of the easiest little things you can do – fill your mind with the good stuff.
Because after all, what goes in is what comes out.