Yesterday I was taking a break and decided to catch up with the news online at a major news site. Not sure what I was looking for. Just a kind of “what’s going on in our country” type of thing while I was having a coffee.
But when I went to browse the headlines, I was only shown story after story that were all highlighting violence, abuse, cruelty, and other human atrocities. One of them, about a child murdered, led me to tears.
Brett walked in and asked me if I was OK. “No,” I said. “Well, yes, but, no… I don’t know. I’ll be fine.” I felt silly to explain that a news story had made me so sad, and I didn’t want to discuss it and relive the thing again. But I wasn’t fine. I felt horrible the rest of the day, flashing back over and over to the photo of the victim, a little girl.
I then remembered why I avoid the “news”, if that’s what you want to call it. Our “news” is a misnomer, and it’s more like “the ongoing train wreck you can tune in to at any time when you want to divert yourself from your purpose and your happiness… lose your faith in humanity… and go from feeling like things are pretty good to feeling like the world is going to sh*t and why bother going on, I mean really?”
I’ve always been affected by stories like this, and perhaps more than others. About 15 years ago I accidentally stopped watching TV. I say “accidentally” because I couldn’t pay the bill. I needed that money to put into my little business I’d just started.
After a week or two, I quickly realized I didn’t miss TV at all. I listened to great music, I read more books, and I took advantage of the time to listen to some tapes and CDs I’d been wanting to learn from. That’s when I also re-discovered the Bible and spiritual books to help me stay positive and full of faith.
When I could afford TV again, I still probably turned it on a few times a week – if even that – for special shows. Never news. And I realized how much happier I felt. I went to sleep peacefully and focused on being grateful for what I had and the dreams I was working toward. And I woke up in a good mood.
I’m not ignorant about world events, and I’m not a clueless Pollyanna. I make sure to keep up with major events happening in our country and the world.
But I have learned something important: It’s critical to control what programming you are “fed” in your life. Otherwise negativity will take over you. It’s sadly what most of the world is made of.
This is especially true for women, whom studies show are more highly affected by negative and violent messages.
But even if we turn off the TV ourselves, it seems hard to get away from, doesn’t it?
A few years ago, while returning from a speaking engagement in Atlanta, I sat down at my airport gate to find there were TV monitors in every corner airing a major headline news channel. And they also had the volume preprogrammed loud enough to hear in the busy area.
I was so horrified at what I saw, that I got out my notebook and wrote down the actual headlines from the gruesome stories covered during a 10-minute span (I did NOT make these up):
* “Mummified Man Found at Home in Front of TV
* “Parents Lock Kids in Cages”
* “Mall Shooting Rampage” (complete with live, violent footage)
* “Anna Nicole: Beyond the Grave”
* “Blood Bath Bondage Sex Attack” (with photos of the blood-strewn scene)
* “Mom Tries to Drown Kids”
By this point, I was nearly nauseous and was glad my plane began to board. I can’t believe this “news” was being shown during daytime, especially when children could be watching. I spent the rest of my day feeling polluted, saddened by the state of the world, and feeling uneasy. Even though I had been having a great day.
So, what’s a happy, positive entrepreneur to do?
You can’t change the world. But you CAN change YOUR world.
What do I mean?
I just focus on making MY world the best it can be. I make my environments positive, surround myself with positive people and media, and keep myself focused on the good in the world.
And when I do THAT, it helps everyone else who comes into my world. My readers, my clients, my neighbors, my vendors, my family, and even people I just see on the street.
I mean, we will come across enough crappy stuff we have to deal with anyway. Of course we need to be aware of what’s going on in the world, and get involved with causes we care about, but we don’t need to be force fed negative events and ideas all the time.
Control what you CAN in order to have the clear head and positive energy to handle what you can’t.
Tim Ferris, whom I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing in the past, talks about this in his bestselling book, The 4-Hour Workweek. In fact, he devotes an entire chapter to it.
He says, “Lifestyle design is based on massive action – output. Increased output necessitates decreased input. Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.”
I agree. So if you want to feel better starting today, and be more productive, more positive, and full of possibility, then turn off the news. It’s not real news anyway. You’ll thank me later. That one feel-good story they feature per hour isn’t worth watching the atrocities the rest of the time.
If you need something “on” all the time while you work, like I do, play upbeat or relaxing music in your office or on your headphones. (One of my favorite artists for chilling out with positive lyrics is Samantha James.) If you like visuals, buy relaxing videos with ocean and nature scenes, which are easy to find on Amazon.com and elsewhere.
“But Ali, what if I miss something important?” You won’t. Trust me on this. With all the media being forced at us every day, your choosing to skip out on what is voluntary won’t affect the big stuff finding you.
So take a deep breath, put some great music on, and get back to helping people via your purpose.
Question: How have you handled maintaining a positive environment while you work? How about at home? And if you have children, has it changed how you control the media in your home? I’d love to read your contributions below. ~Ali
© 2014 Ali International, LLC
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