I used to be an avid reader of the news. I loved being completely plugged in and able to converse with anybody about anything. As a business attorney, I felt I had be up on everything to do with current events and the economy.
As I left my big firm job to start my own company, I knew I was creating something out of nothing. To be successful, I had to consistently be focused in a zone of creativity, passion and drive. How could I stay in that zone?
I realized that the news occupied a huge space in my “mental real estate.” This included the time I was spending consuming it, the disruption of my peace of mind, and the low energy and bad mood that resulted from a consistent barrage of fear. My news consumption was making me unhappy, and ultimately preventing me from accomplishing my vision for my business and for the life I wanted to create.
I had a strong belief that “only ignorant people don’t read the news.” But a perpetual diet of fearful events that I had no control over was making me unhappy. Wasn’t that worse than the “bad” that would happen to me if I didn’t read the news? I needed to shift somehow.
What is My REAL Reason for Consuming News?
A huge reason I was consuming all of that news was out of fear. I would be in subtle fear while reading and then I would want to read more. How did that story I read yesterday turn out? Are we going to war? Is the economy going to collapse? Which was leading my mind down the drain with thoughts like: what will happen if our country goes to fight? Oh those poor people! And what about my business if our economy collapses? Where will I earn money? What will I do?
Why was I putting myself through all that anxiety?
So like many things in life, I had to make a choice. What is the life I want to create? Is my purpose politics or helping entrepreneurs build successful businesses? It may not be popular to say any of this, but I know in my heart that I’m not here to help people in third world countries nor make a difference in politics. It’s just not my path. So I had to choose—do I stay current and knowledgeable in a way that everyone will approve of while knowing it was taking away from my ability to achieve my purpose or do I quit the news and focus my energy on achieving what I know I’m here to do?
Well, I’m sure you know what I chose! I chose that I would control my thoughts and mindset, not what was in the media or what someone else thought I should know about.
How Can I Be an Informed Citizen?
So I put myself on a strict news allowance. I read a few online sources I trust, and at voting time, I learn the candidates’ positions and other items on the ballot. Honestly, most of my news comes from friends who are plugged in. If something major happens, I hear about it. Always. I probably spend two hours every month consuming news through reading and listening to friends. It has cleaned up my mental real estate so I can show up for my clients and for my long-term future. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that a huge part of the happiness I experience on a daily basis is because of this decision.
I’ve had several clients and friends tell me recently that they were stressed or depressed because of what is going on in the news. Here’s what I shared with them about how I deal with the news when it gets me down – which it does, even in small doses!
What’s a Different Way I Can Frame the Situation?
One of the first ways I shift my mood is by asking myself deeper questions like:
What is it that is actually upsetting me?
It’s amazing how much less a news story upsets me if someone tells me about it than if I watch it on TV or read about it. This makes me question how news is being presented—is it to keep me informed or to keep me watching?
Are the facts correct? What is a different way of looking at this story?
No matter how objective you believe your media outlet to be, if you look at how the same stories are being reported internationally or on the other political party’s media, you will see a very different side to the “facts”.
Do I need to be upset about this right now or is it just presented in a way that is scary?
No matter how bad the news, is it actually as scary as the headline? If I know that I’m not going to become an activist in some way in this area, do I need to feel fearful and upset over it?
Would a “balanced” or “objective” media only report bad news?
The news does not cover most of the good going on in the world — good that I know exists because I experience it every day. Like my friend doing a mission in Tanzania to help a local community, or my amazing colleague spending her barely existent free time at the airport to help immigrants, or my mom who has created a long-term relationship helping woman who can barely leave her home. I know that there is a lot more good happening in the world than bad because most human beings are good people doing great things for their families, friends and communities.
What is My Choice?
The Dalai Lama once said, “If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.”
I have this choice in every moment—I can either let it go or I can do something. If I can keep this top of mind, the events of the world have no power over me.
The Power to Create Rests Within Each One of Us
We always have an opportunity to create and bring good things into other people’s lives. And we always have a choice about how we see a situation, how we can use situations constructively, and the amount of time we spend learning about what’s going on in the world.
No matter WHAT happens in the news, I’m building a business that will help thousands of people reach their dreams. That’s the life I envision for myself and it makes me happy, living in this amazing time, living this amazing life.
To explore more in depth on the lessons I’ve learned in life and business, check out my upcoming learning series, Course Corrected.