Most media coverage tend to accentuate the negative and profit from covering sensational stories. When we passively consume such stories we may feel like we live in a cruel and unjust world. We can avoid feeling disheartened by the news when we are mindful of the media we expose ourselves to and we take steps to maintain a balanced perspective. (Estimated reading time: 6 minutes)
“Carve a tunnel of hope through a dark mountain of disappointment.”— Martin Luther King Jr.
The sun is shining bright. The birds are singing. You feel top of your game as you prepare for the day ahead. You’re full of hope and positive expectations. Until you turn on the news.
You freeze as you scan the flurry of headlines, and watch stoic reporters delivering news on the latest political scandal, natural disaster, disease outbreak, or increased crime in your area. Your heart sinks, your stomach knots, and you feel angst begin to rear its ugly head.
All the joy that you experienced earlier dissipates as you weather the maelstrom and get disheartened by the news.
This scenario is all too common in our modern world of 24/7 connectivity. It’s almost impossible to escape the impact of the media unless you live in isolation, far away from civilization. It doesn’t help that most news outlets tend to accentuate ‘bad’ news. Fueled by their primary goal, profit, the media targets viewers by ‘entertaining’ them with sensational news.
Unconscious consumption of these stealthily crafted headlines can cause anyone to believe that we live in a dark, unjust, and cruel world filled with hate, fear, and distrust. Yet at some point, we need to break the spell by asking ourselves the cost of allowing ourselves to be exposed to the media’s flawed perspective, and dwelling on it.
We don’t live in a utopia. Since the beginning of mankind, the human experience has been shadowed by the darkness of wars, epidemics, crime and tragedy. With the advent of the information age, however, those shadows have become more visible. Accepting this reality for what it is, is the first step to liberating ourselves from experiencing spikes in our emotions whenever the news reminds us of the harsh realities of life.
Nothing good comes from denying the existence of problems in our world. It isn’t helpful to live in a bubble where everything appears fine and dandy. As responsible citizens of planet Earth, we need to stay informed and involved in our pursuit to change things for the better. The news should inspire us to be more proactive in our communities and instigate positive change.
Many times in history we’ve seen how one, single person can bring about massive change by providing an example and acting as a light for others. All it takes is us to refuse corruption, and not letting despair and oppression dim the light of faith and courage. Revolutionaries and creatives like Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, and Michael Jackson used their voice sand creative outlets to become beacons of hope and inspiration.
But for us to transmute negativity into something constructive, we need to learn how to take a balanced approach to interpreting the news. Our challenge is to manage our exposure to the vast amount of data thrown at us on a daily basis, and respond to it in a way that won’t compromise our wellbeing.
In doing so, we’ll discover that we already have all the inner resources that we need to put a positive spin on things, and gain a balanced and healthy outlook. It’s ultimately a choice that we make. We can pull ourselves out of the dark abyss of noise, hopelessness, and cynicism when we stay devoted to the spirit of truth and hope.
Here are five steps you can take to avoid being disheartened by the news:
1. Monitor the quality of the news that you consume: The mediascape is flooded with choice, from TV, radio, online, and print. Each has different focus areas and possess distinct tones. It’s worth examining your news sources to see if they are presenting information in a way that gives you the freedom to interpret it. Seek those news outlets that provide unbiased coverage without the urgency, chaos, and drama that may cause you to feel anxious and disturbed. Tweak your media diet to include only those channels that inform and uplift at the same time. A couple of outlets that feature positive news are GoodNewsNetwork.com, Live Happy Magazine, and AARP Magazine.
2. Examine how you process the news: We are constantly being conditioned by the world around us. Our minds are like sponges that absorb whatever we’re exposed to. We might be unaware that we are processing the news based on negative thinking patterns that are operating under the radar of our conscious awareness. When limited thinking is wired into our brains, we’re especially prone to being triggered by what we hear and see. A fear-based outlook on life will only be validated by the news that we watch. If you feel that this is you, it’s worth examining your personal history and taking steps to make a healthy shift.
3. Choose your company wisely: Focus on developing relationships with the people who are proactive and balanced in their approach towards world affairs. Avoid the complainers, whiners, drama queens, and Negative Nancy’s who always manage to find something that they aren’t satisfied with, and are unwilling to actively find solutions to problems. Be intentional about building a network of heart-centered people who believe that there’s room for growth and improvement. They stay informed about world affairs without feeling depressed by the news.
4. Focus on the goodness in the world and add to it: We tend to notice things in our environment based on what we focus on and believe. For example, if you decide to purchase a red shirt, you’ll begin noticing red shirts everywhere, in shops and worn by the people around you. Similarly, if you believe that there’s goodness, love, and kindness in the world, you’ll find plenty of evidence for it everywhere. You’ll be surprised by how much brighter and promising the world looks when you take on this perspective. It will also encourage you to add to the goodness in your own unique ways, whether that be through acts of kindness, or engaging in volunteer work.
5. Have a positivity practice: An effective way to shield yourself from negativity is by developing a positivity practice. This practice may include rituals that help you stay in a positive flow and keep your vibration high. Feeding yourself with inspirational material will give you the push needed to run at peak performance, and will greatly impact the quality of your experiences. Read motivational stories and books, listen to helpful podcasts and talks, watch heartwarming movies, attend workshops and events where you can engage in a dynamic community, and follow people on social media who post life-enhancing material. Meditation, breathwork, exercise, and walks in nature will keep your body in a healthy and centered state.
Einstein once said that there are two ways to live your life – as though nothing is a miracle or as though everything is a miracle. We can choose to see the world as a beautiful and miraculous place that’s bursting with opportunities for kindness, generosity, love, and abundance. Despite what we’re being told by the news, we can become champions of hope.
All my best on your journey,
Question: Do you find it challenging to stay hopeful when you’re disheartened by the news? What kind of effect does it have on you?
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