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Watch What you Feed Your Brain

Updated: Apr 16

“The more you feed your mind with positive thoughts, the more you can

attract great things into your life.”

Roy Bennett

The news is getting me down.

It's important to me to know what's going on in the world. Yet, more frequently than ever, I've been asking myself,

"How do we strike that healthy balance of staying informed without

wanting to jump off a ledge?"

Just as the food we eat impacts our physical health, the conversations we engage in, the news and video we read and watch, all impact our mental health.

In our current world of 24/7 media and its excessive stimuli, our minds are often restless, scattered, and distressed. Our world has gotten loud, with everything shouting for our attention. We can’t enjoy a meal at a restaurant or even fill up the gas tank without video screens and noise blaring at us.

And yet our best thinking and our best decisions rarely emerge from

a distracted, overly busy mind.

Are your news and social media habits setting you up for happiness?

How much of the clutter in your brain revolves around bad news? Bad news sells. Research conducted by the National Academy of Sciences reports that a human bias toward negative news exists largely due to how we’ve evolved.

It’s riskier to ignore negative information...

“An ice storm is coming." "There is a saber-tooth tiger in the second cave to the left."

... than it is to ignore good news :

High school grad takes his grandma to the prom.” “Man saves baby raccoon.”

“Paying attention to negative news,” the researchers report, “is generally an effective survival strategy.”

Okay, that makes sense. Our brains were designed to protect us. But I’m still trying to figure out that tipping point between staying informed and staying sane. Sometimes, if I'm carrying the stress of the news with me well into my day, I’ve found it helpful to go on a temporary news "diet.” You know, check the headlines, but don't get sucked in. Observe the news-trains, but don’t get carried down a dark tunnel by them. It’s too easy to get lulled into that, “Ain’t it awful” mentality that will drain the joy right out of your day.

3 Good Rules and a Bonus

  1. Start your day with your healthy-happiness routine before you jump on the news or social media. Have you ever grabbed your phone to check the news/social media before even getting out of bed in the morning? Yea, me too. Instead, try starting your day with a good habit to set your day up for success: Work out, stretch, walk the dog, play with the cat, sip your tea -whatever you enjoy doing to start the new day off with a calm mind and a happy heart. In my house, we have a “No news before Susan’s had her coffee” rule.

  2. No news/social media two hours before bed. Or, consider a temporary news sabbatical. There are some well done daily news summaries and podcasts that you can subscribe to to give the high level overview of the news within 5-15 minutes. This way, you can stay informed without getting sucked in. And watch or read earlier in the day. If the news is making you anxious, don’t feel guilty about taking a hiatus. It’s your mind, your well being. You’re the curator of what you allow into your brain. You’re the bouncer at the door of your mind. Manage who and what you let in.

  3. Similarly, no business correspondence two hours before bed. I’m a recovering 11 PM email-checker. I know, it’s a ridiculous habit. There is no way I’m going to able to resolve any business issue at that late hour. Even if I did respond, what have I done? Well, I’ve just trained the recipient that I work until past 11 PM at night and set the expectation that they will receive a response at all hours of the night. Also, my brain is decidedly not functioning at its best at that late hour. Let me be clear - this is business training and coaching I’m talking about, not emergency brain surgery. If that’s your vocation and you’re on call, by all means check in. But otherwise, ask yourself, “Can this wait until tomorrow?”

Bonus: Do something to make a positive difference for someone. Relentless negative news feeds a global sense of helplessness. What good does it do our world to freak out and obsess over everything that's wrong? Stop focusing on all the negativity and focus on taking action to make a difference. Contribute, create, help, do something that advances the cause. Do something kind - hearted for someone. THAT's how we change our world for the good. By taking action - one step, one person, one cause at a time.

How do you balance staying informed and staying sane?

What are some other ways that work for you to clear the clutter for a greater sense of calm?

Want A Little Bit More Happy in your life, just once or twice a month? click here.

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