Mood Stings … June 12, 2012

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In the spirit of complete disclosure, I will tell you that I have consumed so much crab at an all-you-can-eat buffet that for the next four days, it smelled like the little critters were crawling out of every pore of my body. Like every good, red-blooded American, I have over-eaten my share of all sorts of delicacies over the years.

I remember one Thanksgiving, my son, Jasson, who is a normal-sized fellow at about 180 pounds, decided to weigh himself prior to the meal and also following. In the pursuit of great turkey and dressing, he gained seven pounds in less than an hour. Yes, eating is a great American pastime which normally culminates with either indigestion or constipation. These two obstacles don’t seem to stop us.

Everyone has suffered from eating too much or from ingesting the wrong foods at the wrong time. But it amazes me why we don’t understand that taking in large doses of entertainment and information will equally cause us to have mental indigestion or emotion constipation.  For some reason we think we can watch or do anything and just sweep it away from our thinking at will.

I am not suggesting that watching a murder mystery is going to make you go out and kill your next adversary but I am telling you that the entertainment we select, the information we absorb and the attitudes that pummel our minds DO leave behind what I shall call mood stings.

Yes, they affect our mood. And depending on how long we stay in that mood and what opportunities and problems may come our way which need to be addressed while we are still smarting from that sting, we can end up with lost revenue or even disaster.

I can always tell when people have spent too much time in front of the TV or movie screen. They get plagued by three moods that are very difficult to shake until you replace the experience with something that enriches your heart and plumps up your soul. Here are the three mood stings that can puncture your life with their nastiness:

1. Feeling vacant. Yes–sometimes after watching entertainment, rather than being filled with inspiration, you are instead engulfed in a sense of emptiness. Much of what we consider to be enlightenment in our society is really a sharp nail that pierces our souls, causing the air to seep out of our spirits. It leaves us feeling vacant.

I see it all the time. When my kids were growing up they would go to a movie and get up the next morning devoid of energy or any sense of drive or passion. They would insist that the movie was “fabulous,” but they never realized that it had drained them of all motivation.

2. Overly sensitive. How many zombies do you have to watch being killed before you lose all sense that life is being lost? How many women raped before they all look the same? How many bullets ripping through flesh and pouring out blood before human life doesn’t have as much meaning? We become defensive that human life is so worthless. If the end of the world is so near, why make a fuss over doing anything of quality? So instead of stepping up to pursue excellence, people become overly sensitive about their own space.

3. Suspicious. If you’re listening to a news report about cheating politicians, philandering ministers and terrorists around every corner, it may be a little difficult to allow any form of trust to exist in your dealings with your fellow-man. For instance, I was walking out of a door a couple of days ago and held it open for a young mother and her child. The woman was not grateful, but rather, suspicious about why I was being so nice. She even tried to take the door away from me so she could hold it for herself. I wondered what had caused her to become so careful in an environment where blessing was possible.

The wrong type of entertainment, news programs and even books can make us suspicious. And when we’re suspicious, we always close the doors to possibility and open them to attack.

These are mood stings.

Just as eating too much food gives you indigestion or constipation, taking in input from the outside world that is laced with hopelessness, despair and disrespect for human life can make you vacant, too sensitive and suspicious. And if God sends you a blessing in the midst of one of these stingings, you are certainly going to miss it because you are recovering from the shock of your ordeal.

So what am I saying? Should we avoid all entertainment? Should we stop watching things that might be a little bizarre? Not at all. But just as in the case of eating, you have to know when to push away from the table, and you also have to occasionally reach for an antacid to overcome your gluttony.

When I know I’ve run across a piece of entertainment or some broadcast that brought darkness to my mindset, I never end my day with that particular experience. Sit down and read a book. Say a prayer. Play a game of cards. Take a spiritual antacid to counteract the over-indulgence in material that was not intended to refresh you.

Remember–entertainment and news programs try to bypass the heart and soul and go directly to the mind. When you bypass the heart and soul you are speaking to a mind which is not rejuvenated or revived by spiritual regeneration, but rather, carries its own fears, prejudices and cultural upbringing. If you want to have a true experience in entertainment, the heart and soul have to be involved in order to renew the mind.

I never write a movie script unless it reaches the heart, which I know will expand the soul and therefore give the mind something fruitful to chew on.  But not everyone who writes agrees with that premise. So it is our job to beware. We shouldn’t turn into nuns or join an Amish clan, but rather, be more intelligent, introspective viewers. And when you do catch some program that lays a human body out on a slab like it’s a chunk of meat for dissection, come out of the theater and go do something else before you close your eyes and go to sleep.

Replace the gore with something more. If you do that, you can avoid the nasty mood stings of feeling vacant, being too sensitive and ending up suspicious.

After eighteen months of traveling across this country, what would I say are the main weaknesses in our nation? We seem to have a vacancy in our soul. We are way too sensitive, and certainly, overly suspicious of each other. It is the effect of mood stings.

And just like when you’re stung by a bee, the sooner you acknowledge it and treat it, the less itching will follow.

   

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