You Become the Content You Consume

Matt Paulson
4 min readJul 16, 2019

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You’ve probably heard the idea that “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” There’s a corollary to that saying might not have heard of. It’s that “You become the content you consume.” I talk about it in this video.

https://youtu.be/iNe11w8kOyM

Prefer to read instead of watch? Here’s a rough script I used for this video.

Hey guys, Matt Paulson here. In this video, I want to talk about a habit that you can implement in your life that will help you become the person that you want to be. There’s an old saying that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. You hang out with people that are avid runners all the time, chances are you will eventually become an avid runner too. If you only hang out with drug addicts, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to end up doing drugs. I think that saying is true, but what I want to focus on today is a corollary to the idea that you are the average of the five people you spend the time with.

This corollary principle that I’ve recently discovered is that “You become the content that you consume.” The idea is that listening to someone’s podcast twice a week really isn’t that different than spending time with them, so if you are constantly reading books by the same author, listening to audiobooks all in the same genre, or listening to a bunch of similar podcasts, you are naturally going to move your life in the same direction as the messages you are consuming. I think you already know this to be true, even if you haven’t put it into words before. Because who doesn’t come out of a superhero movie and think “Man, I could conquer the world right now.” or “I wish I could just take a leap and fly through the city.” Of course, you’re not going to become Spiderman because you watched the movie, but you definitely are going to be thinking about it for quite a while.

If you only listen to business podcasts, you are naturally going to be spending more time thinking about business in general, new businesses that you can start or how to improve your existing business. And, this was me for years. I only ever read business books and listened to business podcasts. As a result, I was always thinking about my business and how to improve it. If you’re only reading personal finance books and listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio, you are probably going to spend a lot of time thinking about how you can get out of debt and improve your financial position. If you’re listening to fitness and motivation content, you are probably going to find yourself working out more. Because you are regularly consuming content about one single topic, you think about that category more, and consciously or subconsciously start to act to improve that area of your life.

I think this is also true about unhelpful comment you consume. If you’re watching people play video games all day, you’ll probably find yourself working out less and playing a lot more video games. If you’re only looking at shopping websites, you’ll probably end up buying a lot of stuff you don’t need. If you only ever watch YouTube videos of raunchy comedians, you’re probably going to start making a lot more inappropriate jokes.

In my life, this principle really revealed itself in the last few weeks. I decided that a lot of the business audiobooks and podcasts I had listened to were repetitive and not really that helpful to me, so I decided to start listening to other types of non-fiction content. Specifically, I decided I was going to focus on books and podcasts that helped me become a better Christian, a better father, and a better athlete. I re-read the book Wild at Heart by John Eldridge and The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller in the last week, and all I’ve been thinking about is how can I be the best father to my children and the best husband to my wife that I can be. I just read Jesse Itzler’s book about how he lived with a Navy Seal for a month and the workouts they did, and if that didn’t motivate me to get up and bike 10 miles before 1 Million Cups, I don’t know what did. So, I’m going to continue this experiment. I’m going to listen to far fewer business podcasts and audiobooks for a while and focus on these other types of personal improvement categories and see how it changes my life.

So, that’s the principle. You become the content you consume. So, consider changing the type of content you consume and focus on content that will make you a better person if you implement it. Maybe watch less Netflix and pick up a Fitness audiobook or a leadership audiobook or a church leadership and discipleship book if you happen to be a Christian. Try it and see what happens in your life. See if the content you think about changes and see if you become the content you consume. That’s it. Thanks for watching.

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