I’ve stopped watching the television news. I’ve also turned off the news notifications on my phone. It came down to what I saw in a tweet the other day regarding the constant struggle between “I should probably be more informed about current events” and “I would like to be a functional human being with at least a vague will to live.” I decided I would like to be a somewhat functioning person without a casual drug habit. So, I’ve tried as much as possible to check out in a positive way. And for good reason, apparently. Because today I checked in on the news for like two minutes and discovered concern over a new variant, the real potential to lose abortion rights for women in this country as the now conservative majority Supreme Court hears a case from Mississippi, and yet another high school shooting with multiple fatalities. Are you kidding me? I wanted to throw my phone across the room. It reminded me of a scene from the 1987 film Roxanne starring Steve Martin, where the main character buys a newspaper from a machine (those were a thing once), reads the headline, and then puts another coin into the machine to open it so he can put the paper back. I don’t want to know all this.
I went to my meditation group meeting tonight where the theme was gratitude. We talked about how we can practice gratitude to improve our lives. There is actual science regarding how being grateful changes us in a positive way. This is what I need more of in my life. I need to pay attention to all the things that make me feel loved, supported, safe, sane, and secure, all the things I am deeply grateful for. Focusing on a pandemic that has taken over 5 million lives and doesn’t show any signs of abating is not helpful. Watching footage of terrorized teenagers after another school shooting is not helpful. Ruminating on the potential rollback of women’s rights after 50 years is not helpful. I’m not sure there’s a news story out there right now that could make me feel better. So, I am going to give gratitude a try and focus on all the good in my small universe of concern. This is the place where the most important people to me are. This is the realm that matters right now. Yes. I understand that people need to be engaged in society for positive change to come about, but society is a mess right now, and I shouldn’t be around them anyway since they could be contagious.
The next time I get overwhelmed by something, I am going to try to see instead an opportunity in that stressor for gratitude. If someone is vexing me, I am going to be grateful for the space they are giving me to grow in patience and love. Okay. Okay. Maybe I won’t succeed in that last one consistently, but you have to start somewhere.
Gratitude may not be the answer, but it has to be more positive than focusing on our shared reality, which feels not unlike watching the aftermath of a 100-car train wreck. So is anyone with me? Is it time to start a revolution of appreciation for the good we know is there but are choosing not to focus on? I’m going to need some strong positivity warriors in my camp. I’m not known for being Sally Sunshine. Glennon Doyle likes to say, “We can do hard things.” Finding gratitude these days seems like it might be a hard thing, but if Glennon says we can do it, then we can.
I have stopped watching TV news too and now have quit scrolling the news on the Internet. But hubby reads the news online and today I walked in the room where he sat reading the news and he yelled out a headline to me that said: “Woman Allegedly Breastfeeds Cat on Delta Airlines Flight.” I KID YOU NOT! You can’t make this stuff up, I’m telling you. I just had no words for that one Justine.
I am increasingly aware that there is little “News” on popular media. The information is designed to get an emotional reaction from the receiver. I don’t need to hear some one’s agenda disguised as information about events. I’m going through the process of multiple news inputs from around the world. It’s a lot of work but seems clearer. Plus, when anything major happens I hear about it from the people in my life almost immediately.
I learned a lot from retreats and stays at monasteries, I can be gone for more than a week or month and when I return nothing was missed. All the so called major events when I entered turned into new major events.
Gratitude, saying thanks for everything, is a wonderful way to stay in touch with the fact the universe owes us nothing, yet just being alive and present is the most wonderful gift I can imagine.
Take care of you, Gassho.
I agree with you regarding the news. Anymore, most of it appears to be more for infotainment than dissemination of important, relevant information. When I watch it now, I try to notice the drama that is infused into it so I can avoid it. My 20 year old son reads news only on Al Jazeera or the BBC because he says the US reporting doesn’t pay any attention to world news and it’s better to get news about this country through someone else’s perspective. I can’t say he is wrong. But you are right about how even when you step away from news you come back to pretty much the same situation you left behind. Gratitude keeps us grounded in what matters, and that makes all the difference in attitude. Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts!
I agree entirely!
I realized long ago that there was a reason the good old days were so good. Go back 200 years to the American Frontier. You lived a real life that was immediately before you. “News”, such as a periodical, would take two months to reach me. The things I might read about were history already. There would be many things that I would not be taxed with: Wall Street reports, video footage of soldiers at war, video footage of humans behaving in their most deplorable ways; riots, violence, killings. Bad cops, bad governors, lunatics with firearms. I’m sorry the list is so lengthy already…
I have refused to watch or read anything that laughingly refers to itself as “news” for a decade or more.
Follow the money.
“News” shows are just that: shows. The TV station and the network and the reporters and the meteorologists all want to keep their jobs, improve the station’s profitability, make contributions to their 401k, pay for their mandatory health insurance. It’s marketing. Everything is marketing. What stories will generate the greatest viewership and income?
Imagine yourself the director of the TV news, and in the staff meeting you say “Know what? This world is really AFU right now. People need some good news. Ditch the story about the murder and run the one about the guy saving cats. Ditch the story about the serial rapist and run the story about the old lady that never expected to make money selling silk flowers, and now she brings smiles to everyone from her shop.”
Follow the money: in this case, your unemployment check.
Really, I can’t do anything more than I am doing now to stop another school shooting or weed out another bad cop or avoid electing a governor subsequently accused of sexual misconduct. A cop out? My duty to society to be involved?
I fulfill my duty every day. I thank all the good cops. I taught my children (and now grandchildren) knowledge, respect and proper use of firearms. I taught them about moral values like not killing one another, not raping one another, not stealing from one another. It’s pretty simple, and there’s a written list in the Christian bible if you need one.
Since my wife’s death last December, I had withdrawn from the world on what I had considered an hiatus.
In retrospect, I find it more to be an attempted escape.
An escape from the BS of this world.
Now I practice daily focus on things that are real and here before me. Things that I can do something about, things in my sphere of influence. Things in a genuine world.
I have almost completed my escape, and it is the most wonderful feeling.
It has been liberating to truly define those things that “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”, quoting Bogart in “Casablanca”.
I wish you good fortune in your quest for peace.
As Maugham wrote: “The path to salvation is narrow, and difficult to walk.
Like a razor’s edge.”
See you on the trail,
You have been an inspiration to me since we first started communicating on this site. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts because they always deepen my own perspective on life and mindfulness. I imagine this past year has been a difficult one for you, and I think your decision to escape from the BS of this world is a wise one. We often get so caught up listening to the static of modern life that we lose focus on what matters and where we can find peace and make a difference for ourselves and others.
As always, you are quite a few steps ahead of me, but I appreciate the bread crumbs you leave so that I may follow along your mindful path.
Reading this I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes regarding gratitude “”Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” —Melody Beattie.
I love this quote. Thank you for sharing it!!!