Garbage In, Garbage Out… What Is Making You Miserable?

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That’s at least what the motivational speaker Jim Rohn believes.

But it is not only people. It is also the books you read, TV you watch, the social media you follow, the environment you are in, the work you do, the exercises you perform, or the food you eat. Everything we experience impacts who we are. It is like being a chef. If you want to cook a great meal, you can’t use rubbish ingredients and throw whatever is available into a pot, let it boil, and hope for the best. Yet, that is how many of us behave when it comes to our lives.

We consume indiscriminately. We don’t care what we eat, what we do, what we pay attention to, or who we spend our time with. We don’t think hard enough about what inputs come into our lives, and then we are surprised that the outputs are not what we imagined.

“The road to success starts with selecting the right inputs and considering what the outputs will look like.”

Physical health

It all starts with physical health. If your body is frail and unhealthy, it will impact all other parts of your life. If you consume vast amounts of unhealthy food, drink alcohol excessively, do drugs, or sit all day long in your chair, moving only as far as the fridge, you can easily imagine what the result of this behavior will be. You can’t escape the natural consequences of mistreating your body. When you choose to provide better inputs, healthier food in smaller amounts, not abuse alcohol or drugs, and start regular exercise, you will eventually get into a much better shape, and that will also impact your mental state.

Mental health

Physical health is directly linked to mental health, but there is more. The input your brain gets in terms of what you pay attention to will impact the way you think and how you see the world. If all you do is check out your social media feed seeing all your friends portraying themselves as happy while listening to TV talking about the latest natural disaster or pandemic update, no wonder you get depressed with how your life is going. By limiting your consumption of irrelevant negative news, you can immediately get in a better mood. When you stop endless scrolling through social media feeds and instead spend some time in person with people you like, oxytocin and other happy chemicals in your brain will make you feel much better about the world and yourself.

Media has an outsized effect on our worldview, attitude, mood, well-being, and mental health. As the saying goes, tell me what you read, and I will tell you who you are. What media and social media you choose to follow can dramatically impact who you become. Especially in the online world, you are being served carefully curated information that some algorithm considers right for you. The machine doesn’t care about your well-being or about widening your horizons. On the contrary, it narrows your worldview and serves you the information you are more likely to engage with and like. This is slowly turning you into an inflexible person stuck in their opinions and attitudes, unwilling to listen to others, and often unable to take ownership of your own life.

Work you do

It is again about attention. You get more of what you focus on. If you have a boring job, feel that your work has no meaning, and don’t give it the focus and effort it deserves, you can’t expect much of a successful output. The same applies to hobbies. If nothing you do during the whole week brings you joy, what you produce will also be joyless. Realizing what is important to you and setting your priorities right can lead to considerable improvements in how you feel about your life.

And then there are all the distractions. If others are dictating the input into your day, if you say “yes” to any and every request, if you let your mind get distracted by checking your phone every two minutes, if you can’t keep focused on anything you do, the output will be abysmal. You will feel busy, yet you won’t produce much to be happy about.

If, on the other hand, you protect your time, you work on what is truly important to you, and you regularly get into the flow, an uninterrupted stretch of time when you are genuinely lost in the work you do, you will not only produce much more and better quality output, but you will feel good about yourself too.


Regardless of how much we feel that we don’t need other people, we do. If you work for a boss you hate and colleagues who ignore you, it will impact the way you feel about yourself. We all need to belong and be part of a community, a family. If you are surrounded by colleagues or friends who feed your mind with complaints and negativity, who drain your energy and drag you down, the output is easy to predict. You will become negativistic and bitter yourself. You will blame the world for your misfortunes, adopt unhealthy habits and attitudes, and that will reflect on your mental and physical state.

If you surround yourself with positive, supportive people who care about you, the world will suddenly look like a much better place to live. When you are there for others, they will be there for you. What you put into the relationships, you get many times back. You will be more energized, see problems as opportunities, and take ownership of your own life. You will know that others will be happy to help you out if you get into trouble.

Putting it all together

Garbage in, garbage out. You can’t expect a great life if all the inputs are bad. To start enjoying your life a bit more, pay attention to what inputs you consume. Take care of your physical and mental health. Ignore social media, and don’t get distracted by things that are not important. Find meaning in what you do, get hobbies that will bring you joy, avoid toxic people and surround yourself with those who will energize you and help you be a better person.

If you get these ingredients, will it make you automatically successful? Of course not. But it will undoubtedly increase your chances of living a better life. If nothing else, it will positively impact your mood, health, and well-being.

What is your take on the topic? Do you believe that the output of your life is directly connected to what you put in? What do you feed your body and mind? What work do you do, and who do you spend your time with? Would a slight change in any of these areas lead to a better output in your life?

Photo: rabedirkwennigsen /

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Categories: Life

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