You cannot get sick enough to help sick people get better. You cannot get poor enough to help poor people thrive. It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone. — Abraham
I used to be the sort of person who felt guilty for continuing my daily life in the face of terrible world events. How could I walk around enjoying my day when everyone else was suffering so much? As a kid I remember wanting to join Mother Teresa’s organization and just feed all the hungry people. As I slept in my warm bed at night I used to wonder about all of the people who were cold and didn’t have a warm bed to sleep in – and why weren’t we all doing something about it… right now?!?
What I’ve learned is that getting out of my bed and sleeping on a cold floor was never going to help all of those without a warm bed. Feeling compassion for others does not mean we must suffer along with them. We are not turning our backs on those who are suffering when we go about our daily lives with enjoyment and purpose. Feeling hopeless in the midst of bad news doesn’t help anybody. Feeling hopeless drains our own energy and makes us less effective to be one of the helpers.
Taking care of ourselves first is always the first step in taking care of others. If we give ourselves what we need to be energized with a positive outlook, we will have plenty to share with those in need. If we feel depleted and depressed, we are very little help to anybody.
Wellness author Dr. Andrew Weil has long recommended a news fast in order to promote well-being. There is no better time to do that than right now. I’ve noticed that when I take a week’s vacation where I am essentially disconnected from all media, I return home to realize that in most instances, I haven’t missed anything in the news that directly affects my everyday life.
Of course it is good to be aware of the world around us, however much of the television and social media news is an inaccurate source of information. I learned about Mother Teresa in grade school and was able to raise money and send it off to a poverty-relief organization. I do my part and continue to find other ways of making the world a better place. I hope that is a given for most people. Anything from donating your clothing to a charity to working on a task force to improve education are all ways we make the world a better place.
As I write this, we are facing a Presidential election. I already know who I’m voting for – and so do you. Think about all of the energy and time wasted on watching newscasts and arguing about who the best candidate is. If we were to all take that energy and focus it on the ways in which we make the world a better place, by election day, it would be!
Today’s media promulgates negativity, fear and hate for a reason. The more unsafe viewers feel the world is, the more they stay on heightened alert. Those on alert feel they need to monitor the news all the time, in case important information comes in. The more inflammatory the news reports become, the less safe viewers believe the world is – and the more they watch the news. It is easy for anxious fearful people to get caught up in this vicious and escalating cycle. Who wins in all of this? The television stations, who can boost ad revenue because of more viewers. That is what inflammatory news reporting is all about – revenue, not information.
Refusing to be caught up in the fear mongering that many news organizations engage in is the first step to stopping its spread. If everyone refused to become an audience member of inflammatory and misleading news reporting, by turning off their televisions and by “unfollowing” news outlets on social media, that kind of news could not survive. Boycotting those who pander to the most anxious and fearful people among us is a really easy way to exercise our ability to make the world a better place.
Taking a news fast allows us to deescalate from the anxiety, worrying and tension that even the most accurate news outlet can aggravate. When we get quiet, we are better able to tune in to our own inner wisdom. We are better able to operate from a place of level-headedness, fairness, justice, kindness, inclusiveness, generosity, compassion and love. We become able to respond to world events based on clarity rather than from a place of fear and hate.
Disconnect from the negativity and hopeless messages that the news can impart and deescalate from the fear-mongering. You will not only take a stand against the proliferation of it by refusing to be a member of its audience, but you will enable yourself to get reenergized and regain a positive outlook. With your renewed outlook, please go out and spread your joy and light! The world needs it – now more than ever!