Jan 022012

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” ~ Mark Twain

One of the best things you can do for your peace of mind is to turn off the the television news programs. How is this a step toward Joy? Manufactured fear gets in the way of the flow of joy. The anxiety produced by watching ‘the news’ undermines your ability to experience joy. So, turn them off. All of them. Every blasted one. Don’t watch them.

They are not news; they are TV programs called news. Their purpose is to generate ratings which brings in revenue. The networks are for-profit businesses and that is what for-profit businesses do: generate revenue. Nothing wrong with making a profit. That isn’t my point. The primary concern of the news directors and programmers is ratings not how well they inform the public. They may be held accountable for factual accuracy but they garner higher ratings by airing sensational stories, hyping the drama, the fear and dragging it out with endless chatter. They tease you about what’s coming next and when you stick around to find out what it is you get more of the same fluff you heard earlier just repackaged and fed to you by a different, pretty, talking head. Television news programs are junk food for your mind. Turn it off for one week and see if you don’t feel better.

I’m not suggesting that you ignore current events. I’m telling you that you will have greater peace of mind and be more well informed if you seek out the information you want for yourself. If all you’ve done up until now is watch news on TV you aren’t up on current events anyway. Don’t believe me? Did you know there was a revolution in Iceland? If you live in the US then you probably don’t know that. Do you know why there was no straw poll in Texas when there usually is? You may not care what goes on in Iceland or Texas but it should be your decision to ignore those stories. Instead of informing you about citizens of Iceland peacefully overthrowing their government you were fed scary stuff, like anxiety producing nonsense based on one study about the possibility that your cell phone might kill you. Or perhaps it was an open-ended story about whether or not the basically harmless stuff that has always been in your drinking water is now suddenly dangerous… or not. Heaven forbid there is an impending storm. The catastrophic possibilities will dominate the programming.

Instead of letting some random news programmer decide what you feed your mind go out there and get it yourself. There are plenty of reliable sources of information on the internet. Where do you think the news programs get their stories? You’ve heard them cite Reuters and  The Associated Press. Check them out for yourself. There are other sources, too, from all over the world. You will be in control of the information you allow into your mind. That’s the most important part of this. You will get the story before it has been edited for drama and you can ignore the fearmongering nonsense that passes for news most nights. If political happenings are important to you I’m sure your favorite pundits have blogs or post columns several times a week. You can read them at your leisure and shut them down when it becomes too much.

That brings me to the second part of this: check the news for only about ten minutes at a time. You can do this more than once a day but don’t spend more than an hour a day on this. Even that is too much for me but if you’re a news junkie that may be cutting way down for you. Pour a cup of tea and read your top three news stories then leave it be and get on with your day. You don’t even have to do this every day to be up on current events. I’m not kidding. Most of what happens in the world has no direct bearing on your life. It may be important to know about but it changes nothing in how you live your daily life. Why give it space in your head and spend precious minutes of your day reading up on this? Check the world news once or twice a week. Check the national news two or three times a week. Spend ten minutes a day on local news. Check the weather and perhaps the sports scores if that’s your thing. Voila! You’re done. You’re informed without being manipulated or unneccesarily frightened. You have control over the input. You decide what you feed your mind. It makes a tremendous difference. It has for me.

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