Today's suggestion is to Choose Your News.
I made this change in my lifestyle about 20 years ago and it has served me well, although it is the change for which I take the most flack from others. Yes, I gave up News.
Just think about it. Typically I, like many of you, would wake up and read the newspaper while I drank my coffee. I would get dressed with a morning news program like the Today Show blaring in the background; I went to work and came home to watch the 6 o'clock news while I ate my supper and then would turned on the 11 o'clock news before I went to bed.
And what do we find in the news? Mostly murder and mayhem, war and greed, bombings and crashes of planes and the stock market. Rarely is there much good news that is reported. And if the news itself isn't bad enough, the Talking Heads sensationalize it more for the drama of the trauma.
My mental (and physical and spiritual) health is much, much better since I gave up News. I start my day with coffee on the veranda watching the world wake up, and I end it with a dog walk under the stars. No drama, no trauma. Just beauty, nature, loving pups and the awe of the divine.
Those who criticize me for being uninformed, don't get the peace and serenity that comes with not being bombarded with negativity.
Also -- I pass the news through my "Stress-Test" - the Serenity Prayer (see previous post) and mostly, about 99.9% of the time, THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO TO CHANGE ANY OF IT.
Now, let me assure you that I am not a total world idiot. When I turn my computer on, I often review the headlines locally and worldwide to make sure our world is as I last left it. And about one or two Sundays a month, I download the New York Times (all the news that's fit to print) on my Kindle (so I don't destroy a small forest bringing the newsprint into my home). Again, even with the NYT, I choose the news I want to read.
As a rabbi, there are some stories I need to follow so I can discuss them either from the bimah or with congregants. These are the stories I will research and analyze and make my own conclusions. And in researching these issues, I choose my sources, reporting style and credibility thereof.
I choose my news. I choose when I need to know about issues. I choose my sources.
But mostly, I choose to live in a world where I can make a difference. And I choose my actions so that I spend my time on things I can change, and don't inundate my psyche with horrid details of things I have no control or ability to change.
I can assure you that this change in my life has reduced the chaos by 80%. Oh sure, there is the occasional day that I am driving and hit a severe tropical storm and have to call a friend and say, "Are we expecting a hurricane?" But mostly I can know these things with my daily headline scan.
News is addictive. Stay tuned for the latest breaking twist and turn of events. That's why some folks are called News Junkies.
If you are indeed a News Junkie - take a 24 hour news break. The world will still revolve. The sun will still rise and set each day. And then re-up for another day and another. I promise you that the quality of your life will improve in proportion to the news you avoid and the news you choose, if you choose wisely so as to avoid your old addiction. (ie, don't choose 24/7 reporting!)
It is 10 a.m. on a sunny Sunday morning in SW Florida. The news from my veranda is that the day is ripe with opportunity, dog walkers are happily passing by, teams of bicyclists are peddling along the bike path, Kona coffee is as it should be, my beloved is bustling around doing his thing, my dogs are snoozing and big ol' Ruby is snoring................this is all the news I choose for this glorious day.