Choose your focus for better well being
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all that we hear that is happening in our world: poverty, war, climate emergency, brexit, walls, fear, destruction, pain… It could also be easy to think it is all bad news; yet, there are usually positive things occurring in my own life, alongside the challenges, so why not also in the rest of the world? We generally don’t hear much about positive things because there is a habit in the mass media to focus almost exclusively on negativity, fear and pain. Not only is the focus generally negative but the same stories are regularly repeated, which can also have an impact on our state of mind. Life is so much more rich and wonderful than this skewed viewpoint tends to offer.
I made a decision some years ago to see if I could improve my overall mood by paying less attention to all the horrific and scary things that the daily news programs told me were happening in the world, whether it was the robbery up the road or melting glaciers or starvation and war in other countries. I had been watching the breakfast news most mornings before work for years thinking it would make me a responsible, well informed citizen. When I thought about it, I realised this could have a powerful impact on how I felt over time. Turning my attention away from what felt like a daily onslaught of negativity made such a profoundly positive difference in my state of mind that I rarely watch conventional news nowadays. I am sometimes accused of not caring or hiding from ‘reality’. This is not the case at all and I am not saying that all news is bad or wrong; I'm aware there are things we need to know about so we can take collective responsibility for making changes. And, I am suggesting that choosing what, and how much, news media we focus on can improve our sense of well being and empowerment.
For people experiencing anxiety, depression and other psychological or emotional challenges, it could be especially important to seek out those things which feel good and offer hope, not only within their own lives but also to seek positive stories happening in the world beyond themselves, in the interest of balance. We can make use of many sources of information, beyond our televisions, to find alternative and positive stories and events locally and around the globe; I believe doing so can give us hope and offer a counter balance to the very real and painful issues we have to face as a society today.
Instead of habitually listening to or watching the same news programs every day, when I hear about things online, through conversation and via radio, I choose how much attention I give to a particular subject. If my interest is piqued, I will seek out further information from different sources in order to get as balanced a view as possible. I also sometimes need to make a conscious effort to let go of worrying about situations that I have no personal control over.
There is a lot going on in our world, which indeed concerns us all, but it feels important to acknowledge personal choice when it comes to how much challenge we can take in and process. I believe that the energy that I put out into the world via my thoughts, attitudes, emotions and beliefs has an impact, just as stories from the world have an impact on me. If we can find ways to relate with the world’s stories that support an overall positive and grateful attitude, its a win win for us and the wider world and we may even feel more empowered to take action about those things that we care about most.