You don't have to be a news hound to know the top stories in the headlines this week. You can walk through the check-0ut counter at the grocery store, turn on your radio or TV, or surf around on your computer. News stories, mostly bad or inflammatory, scream at you all the time. It's hard to escape. I don't mean to add to those voices, but I want to share some of today's headlines:
BP: First try at inserting siphon tube in oil pipe fails
Thai PM warns of civil war as toll mounts
Death sentence over China kindergarten attack
Thousands of Non-Profits May Lose Tax-Exemption
Taliban Say They Killed 4 Afghan Interpreters
There were a few uplifting headlines like California Woman Earns College Diploma at Age 94.
For the most part, the news stinks.
And I didn't even include any political or economic headlines. Those are the stories that can get one's panties into a real wad. The nicest people can turn into complete trolls when they hear something about politics or money that pushes a button. The talking heads on the news programs just inflame the situation further.
I've never seen such incivility and bad manners in all my life.
Watching the news, reading headlines, following political commentary — it all just makes your veins pop out. Have you ever seen someone actually yelling back at the television and calling the commentator some unspeakable names?
I'm embarrassed to say I've had political conversations that that turned, well, pretty tense. With people I really like. So many people like to talk about the news and recount how terrible things are and how the world is going to pot. It makes you want to hyperventilate. None of this can be good for you.
But unless you want to cloister yourself away and detach from any of the electronic devices we all have become so attached to, you are going to have that stinkin' news in your face all the time. What to do, what to do?
There are people who have detached and seem to live perfectly normal lives otherwise.
They have no idea what is going on in the news and are completely blissful in their ignorance. I'm sure they are happier, less stressed and probably much nicer people.
But here's the big question for you: do we have an obligation to ourselves, our children or grandchildren, and to society, to stay informed and try to change the world for the better?
If so, how connected and informed must we be? And how can we make a positive impact and create any real change for the better? Is it possible to stay informed and take action without turning into angry, stressed out, bloviating bobble heads?
As a former news junkie, I have been examining that question for myself. Through my work as a life coach and by reading some really great blogs and books about personal growth and life balance, I have come to the conclusion that it is possible to strike a balance between staying connected to important world events and remaining a calm and happy person.
Here are some ideas for achieving that balance that you might consider for yourself:
- Limit the amount of time you spend reading or listening to the news. Give yourself ten or fifteen minutes to scan headlines and read a few full articles.
- Don't listen to or read news stories first thing in the morning or before bed. The early morning hours should be calm and positive to set the tone for the day. At bedtime, don't fill your head with negative, upsetting or disturbing information.
- Be discriminating about the news you read or listen to. Focus on the stories that are truly important, as well as positive and uplifting stories. Avoid salacious news with gratuitous images of sex and violence.
- Avoid protracted conversations about bad news or controversial topics. Don't give in to the need to offer your opinion unless it's invited. And even then, it's often best to keep quiet.
- Be the voice of balance and reason, if you are involved in a potentially inflammatory conversation. Listen consciously more than you talk. Acknowledge the other person's point of view as valid.
- Stay open to a variety of news sources and opinions. The media is now about as polarized as the politicians. Listen to many points of view and read an array of outlooks on the same topic. Then form your own stance.
- If there is a topic you feel particularly interested in or drawn to, learn as much about it as you can. Become well-informed so that you can speak intelligently about it and perhaps make a difference in your area of interest.
Here are some ways you can contribute.
- If you want to become more politically active, read this article about how to do that.
- If you want to contribute to helping the environment, here are 21 practical ways.
- Reach out to children in need through the Boys and Girls Club of America or the Big Brother Big Sister programs.
- Show your support and care for our soldiers overseas.
- Help the economy through small efforts and spending habits.
- Make a contribution for relief and reconstruction in Haiti.
- Write a letter to your congressional representative and let him/her know your opinion.
- Read this list of 100 ways to make a difference in your community and pick one!
You can remain a balanced and happy person while staying informed about world events and news — even unpleasant or contentious news. By managing your media intake and taking small actions to make a difference, you will feel more in control of the world around you. And you will be making a contribution for positive change and peace. I think that's why we are here, don't you?
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