I’ve identified junk stories and their risks in earlier articles in this series. Now it’s time to discuss ways to cut back on an over-saturated diet of junk stories. Junk stories, just like junk food are easy to consume and over indulge. Many of us wake up and discover we are bloated in junk stories and don’t know how to stop. Since junk stories come in different forms and we listen, read, and tell stories in different ways, let me suggest several different ways to ween off junk stories.
- Come out of isolation – If you are watching shows or movies alone, invite friends or family to sit and watch with you. If you are binge reading junk on line or in print, join a reading group or ask a friend to read what you’re reading. The very act of sharing will expand the quality of your experience and often encourage exploration into other content.
- Investigate the other side – The 24-hour news cycle generates a lot of junk. Most so-called news outlets generate content heavily weighted to one side or the other, seasoned with generous amounts of anger, arrogance, prejudice, and righteousness. The story format creates sticky content that easily provokes strong feelings, but the imbalanced content greatly reduces the value of stories. Challenge yourself and seek out the other side (or sides) of the story. As you begin to question the validity of lop-sided news, individual stories will gain complexity – a storytelling equivalent to nutritional value.
- Try something new – Variety is said to be the spice of life, but we are often reluctant to change, even if we know the change is for our own good. Familiar might be boring, but it’s also safe and reassuring. We crave repetition, but we don’t want to be bored so we seek out binge content so we can space out. Make a contract with yourself to watch, read, or listen to something new for every repeat or repetitive show.
- Challenge yourself – Easy isn’t always good. Step out of your comfort zone and include a few stories every week or month that takes effort to understand and digest. Just as a healthy diet must include complex carbohydrates and lean proteins, a healthy story diet should include quality content that pushes you.
- Don’t forget to play and have fun – Quality isn’t dull and great stories can be fun. Give yourself permission to play.
Next Blog: Where to find nutritious stories.