This is what makes you feel stressed every day.
A well-known quote from Tony Robbins is: “Where focus goes, energy flows”. What we focus on, grows. When you buy a new car, you see that car all of a sudden everywhere. So if you are focusing on your problems every day, they grow too. Why not focus more on your happiness instead?
Every day, we spend on average 13 hours and 21 minutes consuming media. From Netflix to social media to watching the news. More than 13 hours! A day! Now, ‘consuming media’ is pretty broad. But research also showed that we consume more news than ever before. It’s been estimated between 20 and 70 minutes a day. And mostly scattered over the day.
What do you think that will do with your general view of your world?
Several studies have shown that being daily exposed and engaged in the news hurts your overall happiness. And this emphasizes the fact we have to be very careful where we put our attention every single day.
Where focus goes, energy flows — Tony Robbins
You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. Why is that? Because we blend in. Our social baseline makes us connect with others that are alike, or we change to be alike. So this adaptability is both our weakness and our strength. People can be poisonous to you or a blessing.
This happens because we operate on our senses and social acceptance. It’s our survival mechanism. So what we see and hear, influences us in our core, our thinking, and feeling. And therefore where we put our attention.
We see it all around us at the moment during the pandemic. People are experiencing more fear of getting sick, feeling socially isolated, and worrying about the future. In times of crisis, we tend to focus more on that crisis.
Broadcasters like CNN flourishes during crisis’. Like the first war in Iraq. I remember my parents staying up all night to watch CNN all night. We never watched CNN. Until then. And days after. And the same goes for COVID. We want to be informed because we want to feed our anxiety with ‘known facts’.
I get it, it’s a logical reaction.
But where focus goes, energy flows. And where energy flows, things start to grow.
So, if you are spending a lot of time in a day reigniting your energy to danger, negativity, and risk judgments, you are programming yourself to recognize it everywhere (the Reticular Activating System — or RAS — doing its work, just like the example of buying a new car). You are pulling it into your life, more and more and more and more.
So the easy answer is: focus on something else and you will start feeling different.
Are media companies to blame?
No, we can’t blame the media. They have a business to run. They sell what you want to consume. And we consume in large amounts. It’s how the capitalistic market model works.
Is it ethical? Well, that’s an interesting question. It’s the same question you could ask Kellogg’s for selling very unhealthy children’s breakfast. Or Philip Morris for selling cigarettes.
But you and I can’t change that model, their ethics. We can only change our behavior. Our choices. Our thoughts and feelings.
So let’s start there, with the awareness that that’s the first step to feeling better.
If you stop watching the news, you will notice a change in your mood, your overall feeling, very quickly.
I dare you: try it out for just a week. Just one week no news and no opinion pieces on what ever channel or social media.
Instead, pivot your focus on what makes you happy in your surroundings. Take a walk in nature, look at the architecture of your town, see the ducks in the pond, learn about a subject that interests you and makes you feel happy (so I wouldn’t dive into how viruses mutate for example unless you are a biologist).
I will guarantee you, within a week of not watching any news, you will feel better. Less stressed. Less anxiety.
But this also means, don’t play war games on your phone. Don’t watch documentaries about world war II or the food industry. Not even watch ‘Fail army’ videos or TV programs that are entertained around the suffering or failure of others (like the next talent show with obvious non-talented contestants).
Just be present in your surroundings, focus on your work, your family and do as many things that make you happy.
You will be so much better off. I will personally guarantee that (and if not, you can personally blame me for that and you can go back to your old life).
Now, you might say: but I want to know what’s going on in the world! It’s important!
And I say, yes to a certain degree it is. But what is the value I get from watching a news item on something, an incident, that happened somewhere I have no connection with? Can I change it? Can I do something to help? Or is it only to make me feel better about my life, my country, my world?
If you follow the news about something you care about and want to make a difference in, then just watching the news isn’t doing that. Are you upset about global warming? Take your actions. Are you upset about children dying from AIDS? Do something that helps them. That’s all great and you should keep doing that.
But when I watch the news and I see an item of some horrible accident that happened 1,000 or more miles from me, and I can’t do anything about it, then what good does it bring me to hear about it?
So always ask yourself: what good brings it to me that I know about this? Is it triggering something in me that makes me want to do something? Or is it just feeding my emotional, negative state about my worldview?
We’re more receptive to everything that’s happening in the world these days than 25 years ago because of the internet. So it might seem that there’s way more suffering and tragedies happening right now. Terror, natural disasters, rapes, plane crashes, the pandemic. But that’s not reality. We live in the safest times. The chance you die from being overweight is much higher than being shot in a war in a foreign country (even if you’re an US soldier).
So the news is not showing reality. It’s showing the exceptions of reality because that’s news-worthy. But because of the constant stream of news, we think that that’s reality. But it isn’t.
Now, I do watch some news. Once a week or so. And the funny thing is, when something really important happens, I hear it through word of mouth, a Facebook post, or someone telling me about it. Then I can decide to look into it more closely or take it on as a need-to-know basis.
If I’m aware of the information I put in my brain on a daily basis, I live a life with more fun, joy, and happiness, with less stress and anxiety.
What about COVID?
I’m very aware of the risks of the virus. I can’t control if stores are open or not. I care and I have an opinion about it, but I can’t control it so I don’t put as much energy in it.
I am in control though when I go to a store and protect myself with the knowledge I can search for. I am in control of the food I eat, how I sleep and how much I exercise for a healthy immune system. And so far it has helped me to stay healthy.
Not letting fear rule my day helps a lot in living a happy life.
It doesn’t mean you should be fearless. It means you should not let it rule your day, day in day out. If you can’t change it, release it from your worries. If you can change it, then change it.
That is what I call mastering your life, for your own life, based on what you do want. Instead of feeding your mind with fear and anxiety and focus on what you don’t want. Because guess what? Where focus goes, energy flows. Where energy flows, things start to grow.
Attract what you want. Not what you don’t want.
It’s a law of nature. Of the universe.