Switch off the news? ‘What’s that got to do with mental health?’ you may ask..
My answer: everything. Please bear with me and I’ll try to explain…
The way I often talk about mindfulness is being outside of the narrative of thought. But the news is just another one of those narratives. It’s a story about the world.
Worse than that, it’s a story designed to hook you. A story designed, not only to get you to believe the narrative, but to emotionally engage you too. And all too often the hook is greed, sex, or fear.
I’ve been busy of late. Planning some courses. And while I’ve been doing this, I switched off the news. No TV. No radio news. And I pretty much stopped clicking on any news links in social media. And what happened? Nothing. The world just kept on turning and pretty much stayed the same.
You see we might like to think we’d like to help a refugee in Greece. We might like to think we could sort out the economy better than our current government. We might, and do like to think, many things about the world. But what effect do we really have?
Making a difference
If we want to make a difference to the world, we can start with ourselves. My experience of not watching the news is that my mind became calmer. I gained more clarity. I have been more at peace.
The incessant thirst for more stimulation, for another story, to find out what’s happening, what’s changed – all that went away. And people will say, we need to watch the news if we care about the world. But actually, being calmer, being more stress-free, being more at peace – these are the things that can really change the world.
I may not be able to help someone in a war zone, but I can help the lady next door to get her shopping. I can respond to the child who utters a cry for help. These are things I can do, rather than things I can think about. I suggest that whoever we are, we could benefit from less news. Less news can make us more sane. But I’m a great believer in try it and see…
Try it and see
So why not switch off the news? Or at least check it less? And just see, what effect it has on your mind.