How would you like to do something simple that would make you feel better quickly and that doesn’t cost you any money or time? No? Okay, never mind.
Oh, you are still here, so I presume I have your interest. This is not a monetary get rich quick scheme, but a tried and proven technique to lower your stress and heighten your perspective.
I have never been a big newspaper person or one that stayed up just to watch the evening news. I always had better things to do with my time and I never thought much about it. I would, occasionally, catch the news on TV or the radio and whatever they were talking about made me think “That’s terrible”. So, I started thinking about the fact that I didn’t keep up on current affairs and wondered if that made me ignorant. Maybe, but I also realized that I didn’t care. I didn’t care that I be perceived as ignorant because I really didn’t care about what I heard in the news. For the first time in my life I came to an understanding of the expression that I have heard all of my life, usually meant as an insult – ignorance is bliss.
In 2011, I was on my way to a charity golf outing with my attorney. You know you don’t have enough friends when you go to an outing with your attorney. Just kidding, he is a friend. So, on the way, he asked: “So what do you think about Weiner?” Not having a clue as to what he was talking about, I think I made an unprintable joke. He then explained that he was talking about Congressman Weiner and the indecent picture that he had sent to a woman on Twitter. He was appalled that I knew nothing about it. I reminded him that I don’t pay attention to the news because if that is what they have to report, it’s not worth watching.
I have no documented proof of this, but if the news would quit broadcasting every horrendous crime that is committed, maybe less crimes would be committed. Andy Warhol said that “everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes”. Some people choose very poor ways to get into the limelight and maybe wouldn’t be as quick to pull a trigger if they knew that no one was going to hear about it except the police.
So I started recommending to people to turn off the news, stop reading newspapers, and to quit listening to it on the radio. I recommended this to people who were suffering from what I believe to be the number one killer in the world – Stress. The Center for Disease Control ranks the top killer in 2013 to be Heart Disease. Hypertension better known as High Blood Pressure contributes to Heart Disease. The Mayo Clinic reports:
Stress and long-term high blood pressure may not be linked, but taking steps to reduce your stress can improve your general health, including your blood pressure.
I believe that if we can reduce or eliminate stress from our lives, a lot of the frequency of the diseases that are killing us will also be reduced. There are a lot of different ailments that are linked to various diseases; like Heart Disease – Hypertension, Diabetes – Obesity or Diet, etc.. If we were to look below the direct links how many of these direct causes can be linked to stress?
Someone once told me that anything worth saying has probably already been said, written, recorded, or on record somewhere. One day I recommended this to a man that I had met that day that went on and on about how stressful his life was. You see, I thought I had come up with something original, but he quickly told me that he had heard the same thing in a segment he had watched on Mother Teresa. Darn, beat out by Mother Teresa. I tried for awhile to find where Mother Teresa had said that, but alas, Google let me down. Okay, so I have no proof, but I will give her the credit.
Here is the theory behind this recommendation. If you see on the news how some woman has killed her children, how does that make you feel? If you feel anything other than terrible, angry, frustrated, etc.. then seek help please. Of course it makes you feel bad. Now comes the real question: “What can you do about it?” Unless you are the prosecuting attorney, the answer is NOTHING. Here is another less dramatic one. You hear on the news that the economy is in the toilet. Oh, now that’s troubling isn’t it? What can you actually do about it? NOTHING, unless it motivates you to go shopping. One of the most common ones that I have heard in the last couple of years is that the real estate market is way down and how terrible it is. Being the concerned person that I am, I always ask if that person is a realtor or if they have a property on the market. Every one of them said no. What? So what are you so bummed about? I have laughed at them in my very concerned way.
Why would you do something that you know is going to make you feel bad and yet there is nothing you can do about it?
When do people listen, read, or watch the news? There are 3 common times: First thing in the morning, after dinner, or right before you go to bed.
First Thing in the Morning: Way to start your day. Let’s get depressed and then go to work. Nope, doesn’t make sense.
After Dinner: Just had a great dinner, now let me go get upset before I spend quality time with the children – Nope, still doesn’t make sense.
Right Before You Go To Bed: Now this makes sense. In fact, let’s put a TV in your bedroom, so that the news is the very last thing you watch before falling asleep. I hope you own one of those new mattresses that guarantee you a good night sleep, because you will need it. You know that this does affect the quality of your sleep or, at the very least, your subconscious which manifests itself in the dreams you have.
Now that you have a few extra minutes, what can you fill your time with? Whatever you want. If you are like me, there never seems to be enough time in any day to get done what needs to be done. Take this time as a bonus or a gift and do something you WANT to do. Go for a walk. Get some exercise. Burn some of your energy. If you have children, play a game with them. Or you could just dream – that’s right – day dream. We had that beat out of us as kids, but it’s alright and in fact healthy. Without our daydreams, often our next steps can remain hidden.
But I can’t! I need it for my job.
That is the most common objection I have heard and yet, when I pursue what this person’s line of work is, it generally has nothing to do with the news. If you are a politician, as you know, the news is one sided anyway and hopefully you have better sources to stay current with your constituency. If you are an economist, the news is only going to tell you what you should already know. If you are a doctor, please tell me you are not getting tips from the evening news. And if you are an ambulance chasing lawyer, well then keep watching and pleasant dreams.
I am a football fan, although the Bears has given me very little to cheer about in the last SEVERAL years, but another common resistance is that the person likes the sports broadcast. So watch it and turn off the rest. Weather? Get an app. Stock Market? Get an app. Traffic? Get an app. Be specific on the news you need or want and let the rest fall into dead air.
Life has a way of bombarding us with negativity and the news is all over it. Often there are enough downers in our own lives that can depress us. We don’t need to take on the world’s misfortunes too.
Here are some suggestions if you feel the need to take on challenges:
If you are someone who worries about world hunger, then buy a homeless person or family a dinner. If each of us bought one person a dinner every night, there would not be world hunger.
If you are worried about catastrophes, donate money and, if possible, time to help. You don’t have to hear about it on the news – someone is bound to tell you about it.
If you want to clothe the needy, go through your closet and find useful things that you know you will never wear again. You can keep your platform shoes and disco winged shirts guys. Even the needy wouldn’t wear them either.
Worried about the youth of today? Coach a ball team or help out Big Brothers or Big Sisters. They always need more quality people
Distressed over the elderly? Stop by a retirement home and read someone a book or play a game with them, but don’t play poker. Those old folks will clean you out.
You don’t have to look too hard at the life around you to find things you can do to help. You don’t have to go global, yet you might have a global impact – you never know. Even something as little as buying someone you love a blessing bracelet can help.
Maybe if we all started to turn away from the news, they will start reporting differently and the quality of our lives will be enhanced by the news, but until then “Tune Out!” and join us blissfully ignorant people.
And please, don’t get me started on all of the commercials that create a disease, so that pharmaceutical companies can sell more drugs. When they come on, go to the bathroom or, maybe, it’s a great time for that bowl of ice cream.