We can become so obsessed with the news that we continually seek out the latest information. We might access the news through social media such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube or through newspapers both offline and online or via text messaging through RSS feeds.
Whatever the source, we justify the continual access to the news via our smartphones or tablets because we need to keep up to date, our work requires it, we don’t want to be left out of conversations, we don’t want to appear ignorant or a multitude of other reasons.
However, if we are following a news trail, we may go from one report to another, particularly if we are online. We spend hours collectively feasting on news reports and end up with no surplus in our lives that would enable us to contribute to something larger than ourselves – an activity that is foundational to happiness. We become time-poor, a condition that leads to frustration and unhappiness.
Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us that when we are continually accessing the news, we are often digesting distorted information:
We are perpetually bombarded with information, mis-information, partial information, slanted information, conflicting information, and endless opinions and opining on all sides of all issues. (Coming To Our Senses, p.515)
Continuous access to the news is inviting distraction and emotional disturbance into our lives. Distraction involves the inability to concentrate or the loss of focus, which in turn affects our productivity, insight and creativity. Emotional disturbance results because we become upset by a tragic event, angry at unfair treatment, disoriented by endless opposing views, upset through generated “flashbacks”, annoyed at biased reporting, or any other negative emotions occasioned by news events. Continuous access to negative news can generate a sense of powerlessness and, ultimately, depression.
It is true that what happens on the other side of the world can impact our daily lives. However, there is very little we can do about much of what we read or hear in the news.
What we can do is concentrate on developing peace and calm in our own lives and sharing that with others. As we grow in mindfulness through mindful practice we can create positive energy for those around us. Our energy field impacts others and is amplified through interaction with others, both virtually and face-to-face.
We can lessen the negative impact of news on our lives by reducing the frequency with which we access news and/or by offsetting the negative news with a daily feed of positive and inspirational news such as that provided by sites like KindSpring or DailyGood.
KindSpring, for example, describes its purpose as follows:
KindSpring is a place to practice small acts of kindness. For over a decade the KindSpring user community has focused on inner transformation, while collectively changing the world with generosity, gratitude, and trust. The site is 100% volunteer-run and totally non-commercial. It is a shared labor of love. (Emphasis eadded)
We have a choice about how we spend our time daily – we can intensify our distractions and emotional disturbance through feasting on the news or grow mindfulness through mindful practice and impact the world around us in positive ways while achieving happiness in our own lives.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
Image source: Courtesy of geralt on Pixabay