Whether consciously aware of it or not, our mental and emotional state is continually affected by the repeated exposure to all the messages we see and hear throughout the day – good or bad. Just as our physical body requires healthy food to be healthy, so does our mental and emotional health rely on what we feed our minds.

Right after the horrific attack on the US on September 11, 2001 (15 years ago), counselors offered serious warnings to people about repeated exposure to re-watching the tragic events of that day–and certainly not to allow their children to watch. They stressed how harmful the side effects were; causing even greater stress, worry, fear, panic, etc. To continue focusing on this terror would only compound the problem dramatically – while improving absolutely nothing.

As Brain expert Dr. Daniel Amen shares, “The thoughts that go through your mind, moment by moment, have a significant impact on how your brain works. Research by Mark George, MD and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that happy, hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety. Your thoughts matter.

“Once you learn about your thoughts, you can choose to think good thoughts and feel good or you can choose to think bad thoughts and feel lousy. You can train your thoughts to be positive and hopeful or you can just allow them to be negative and upset you. That’s right, it’s up to you! You can learn how to change your thoughts and optimize your brain.

“One way to learn how to change your thoughts is to notice them when they are negative and talk back to them. If you can correct negative thoughts, you take away their power over you.”

We can’t control what the media, internet or other sources put out there, but we can control what we engage in. If it could depress, discourage, drag you down or be destructive in any way, have the courage to turn it off and do something positive and constructive. Always ask yourself, “Is this helping me be my best?” Be aware, purposeful and intentional about what you watch and listen to. Everything counts!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!