The wealth of material and information available to the modern world has reached a level greater than at any other time in history. Now at the pinnacle of our ability to manipulate our environment and produce all the things we need, and many that we don’t, it’s entirely possibly that many of our ills are arising as a result of our inability to handle this incredible glut of input, in all of its forms.

Prior to the recent age, when resources and information were scarce, we would never have thought of turning either of these away. The arrival of this incredible abundance is relatively recent, in the past 50 years or so, with the refinement of industry and the emergence of the information age and the Internet. It has come upon us so quickly that most of us haven’t learned to handle this new level of abundance, if indeed it is possible to adapt to this onslaught at all.

Adaptation starts by asking ourselves the right questions. We seldom ask ourselves, “How much is enough?” and “What do I value over everything else?” We just cannot say no to available things that meet our fancy. In some ways we crave each new thing with the hope that it will somehow set us free. Consequently, we are literally dying from overconsumption in one form or another.

For example, more than half the U.S. population is now considered obese, while people are starving for renewal of spirit and soul in their lives and work. People are busier, have less time, and often feel overwhelmed, surrounded by too much stuff and stressed out under the growing burden of too much information.

What Can You Do about It?

How do we cope with the temptation to consume ourselves into oblivion? Our proposal is simple. First, we suggest that you begin replacing the habit of “accumulating” with the practice of “assimilating.” Second, make sure that what you ingest in any form is of the highest quality possible. Let’s first quickly define these words.

Accumulate: To heap up in a mass; to pile up; to increase; to collect or bring together; to amass; as, to accumulate a sum of money.

Assimilate: To appropriate and transform or incorporate into the substance of the assimilating body; to absorb or appropriate, as nourishment; as food is assimilated and converted into organic tissue.

Proper assimilation and digestion of food, experience, and information allows us to extract their full benefits and put them to good use, whereas overstuffing ourselves in any of these arenas will cause a buildup of unsightly fat, waste, stress, toxicity, confusion, and unease, often fueling an unconscious compulsion for more. All of us know how much better we feel when we push ourselves away from the table before we’re full and the satisfied feeling we get when we give ourselves a little time for our systems to “assimilate” what we’ve taken in.

Satisfaction comes from fully digesting and extracting the fine nutrients from what we already have and making choices for new input based on our true values and passions, not on our casual likes and vague interests. Unconscious compulsions for more input seldom satisfy our true needs, nor will having piles of unread books and magazines ringing our desks reduce the nagging sense that there is some piece of information that will really change everything for us. Saying yes only to what most serves our needs and resonates with our deepest sense of self will go a long way to lessen the burden.

How to Facilitate Assimilation

Of Information

We often spend a great deal of time looking for that special piece of information or that magical answer to our current problem when more often than not, the answer we seek is right in front of us. However, unless we slow down to see, hear, and process what’s already in our world, we may miss these gifts. Try to assimilate fully the meaning and consequences of every activity you undertake.

Of Relationships

We often rush around so focused on getting stuff done that we sometimes neglect our most precious resources: our friends, associates, coworkers, and family. The benefits of goodwill, emotional support, and new connections and ideas very often offset the time spent cultivating and maintaining these existing relationships.

Of Ideas

You might be an avid reader of Personal Development books. If so, just imagine what might happen if instead of picking up yet another new title to read, you were to study the principles from just one chapter of a favorite you’ve already read and actually apply them for the next 30 days. Create a learning plan with specific goals for the next six months. Include both informational and learning goals in this plan, and only include that which you know you can assimilate with minimum effort so that you have time to really make the information a part of your very being.

Of Food

During at least one meal this week, try eating more slowly than usual. Chew your food just a little bit longer. When you’re talking or listening to someone, stop eating. Take time to really assimilate your food, and experience it with family. Try doing just one thing at a time. Enjoy the rainbow of flavors and textures, each bite a miniature world of experience.

Of Experience

We’re all tempted to accelerate our pace of life to match that of our increasingly frenetic culture, but this is a personal choice. Most of the time, we can choose to slow down and carefully select our inputs and experiences and the speed at which we subject ourselves to them. There are ways to help make this choice easier. Commit to a practice of being “fully present” for a few minutes each day. Use whatever method appeals to you. Some choices are meditation, yoga, quiet walks, prayer, tai chi, martial arts, sitting alone quietly, journaling, etc. Alternatively, just look out the window with all your senses. Focus on what is before you, and allow it to really enter your being.

These kinds of practices are more and more important as the world accelerates around you. They give your inner self time catch up with, reconnect with, and properly assimilate with your outer experience. Now, go forth and assimilate!

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Steve Davis, MA, MS, is a former electrical engineer turned trainer, facilitator, business and life coach, and infopreneur. He coaches small business owners, people in transition, leaders, and cultural creatives over the phone and Internet. Steve helps people cut through the fog and chart a clear course to a purposeful and passionate life. Contact Steve for a free exploratory session at Subscribe to his free weekly e-zine for group leaders at, and check out his virtual university, packed with information for group leaders and participants, at