I stopped reading newspapers or watching news, or watching anything for that matter (no TV), a few years ago. Though this week, I admit, I was introduced to the popular TV show ‘The Great British Bake Off” (or something like that) – it made for quite a relaxing, emotional even, evening’s interlude.
But anyway, I stopped partaking in what the media at large deems as newsworthy when I realised how depressing it was to be bombarded on a daily basis with such abject negativity. It just didn’t make sense anymore to do that to myself for what could amount to several hours on a daily basis. And, I discovered, there is science to show that this impact is real, for example…
“the way that negative news affects your mood can also have a larger effect on how you interpret and interact with the world around you… you may subconsciously become more attuned to negative or threatening events, and you may be more likely to see ambiguous or neutral events as negative ones” (Dr Graham Davey, Professor of Psychology, University of Sussex for ‘Psychology Today‘).
There is potential to become oversensitive or, perhaps worse, desensitised to what we see, even, some researchers say, these daily onslaughts of negativity may lead to post-traumatic stress syndrome.
So that doesn’t mean to say that the growing cadre of (bad) news avoiders like me don’t care. In fact the opposite is true. I care a lot, but I channel the ways I care into doing things that actually make a difference. Continuously watching news and doing nothing about it except causing personal distress, “obsessing over a Twitter feed of horrible images from Syria” and suchlike just doesn’t help anyone or anything.
Yes there are a lot of things happening in our world that need to change. Just on a basic, physical level it is shocking that we are subjected to so many chemicals in the food that we eat and the air that we breathe. But we can all contribute in our own way – stop using plastic, support local, organic farmers (it would ultimately become cheaper if everyone did), refuse to take packing from stores, walk instead of drive – there are so many small things that we can all do to make a difference.
And there is so much good news out there that we should be celebrating. Life really isn’t all bad. Good News Network on their site today, for example, are reporting Bob Dylan’s award of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, a dubious accolade perhaps but a nice story, maybe “the times they are a-changin”.
On a more serious note Positive.News recently covered the Dalai Lama’s ‘Choosing Happiness’ seminar in London. His visit, as all his visits do, met with mixed reactions, but the reporter gives, what seems to me, an unbiased account of the varying views on one’s ability to decide how happy to be. I do know for a fact though, that how we breathe impacts the hormones in our system and that our resulting physiology in turn impacts all our bodily systems – including our emotions, or the energy in motion cascading through the cells in the body. In this, as in other ways, we can make conscious choices – fascinating stuff.