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Are you obese?

The way most cities and societies are structured today, there isn't really a need for anyone to exert themselves physically to live their lives comfortably. Going to the gym, going for a run, exercising regularly is an option and not a necessity.

Similarly, eating healthy foods, avoiding junk and fried foods, avoiding aerated drinks, avoiding excess sugar, are all optional and not a necessity. Well, at least not a necessity in the short term.

Someone that barely exercises from one day to the next, isn't deliberate eating healthy foods but will eat whatever meets their fancy (which is typically junk or fried foods), has a tendency to be like the average American and turn obese.

Because obesity is so prevalent and each of us can so easily fall into that trap, there has been a lot of effort to educate people about the ills of obesity, about the goodness of regular exercise and healthy diets. As a result of this, the tide is shifting in the right direction. More and more people who are aware are beginning to change their habits and lifestyles to move in a more healthy direction and away from what leads to obesity.

But this is all about physical obesity.

When it comes to mental obesity, we are where we were thirty or forty years ago with respect to physical obesity.

Just like it was cool to eat McDonald's burgers and fries everyday, and drink large portions of Coca Cola at the movies, it is cool today to spend a lot of time on social media and Netflix.

And just like that behaviour lead to widespread obesity, this will lead to (is already leading to) widespread mental obesity.

And unlike physical obesity, this is harder to overcome.

The junk food industry grew by leaps and bounds in those years and social media and video streaming industry is growing by leaps and bounds today.

Mental exercise (like physical exercise) involves exerting deliberate effort to stop our muscles from atrophying and make them progressively stronger instead. And passive consumption of increasingly frivolous content for longer periods of time is like lying on the couch all day and eating pizza with extra cheese three times a day.

The equivalent of going to the gym or going for a run is getting the mind to be creative - to write something new, to learn something meaningful that we didn't know before, to generate new ideas, to exercise curiosity.

Sure, this can happen on social media or Netflix, but ask yourself if that is true in your case.

If not, you are headed down the path to mental obesity. Or maybe you're already there. But don't worry, there is a path back to fitness if you want to take it. Just cut down on the junk and start exercising regularly.

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