Lets start with a couple of acknowledgements, because the fact that your eyes have found their way to this article tells me two things: one, that you are still out there, alive and with a pulse not just dully watching the news like some less than numb zombie desensitized to the horrors of the reality and two, that you don’t accept the world how it is thereby wanting to change yourself and your surrounding. So good on you dear reader, thank you for coming along for the ride. Now lets get right down to it.
7 Ways To Watch The News So It Inspires Instead of Angers
1. Calm Yourself Down Through Reflection
The very first step is to stay centered and attempt to ground yourself.
Try reflecting on the following Ghandi quote:
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and
love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a
time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of
― Mahatma Gandhi
Internalize that in whatever way suits you best. Breathe into that space for a moment and the fog of despondency will soon rise leaving you with a clarity that all hope is not lost. The power of Gandhi’s words bring great comfort and can bring us back from feeling angry or sad when watching the news. Yes, there is evil we are facing — terrible things happening, but love and truth have won out. Always.
2. Remind Yourself that Things Are Getting Better
Sure there are many things to be down about, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t making progress! Our perceptions shape our reality, whatever we fixate our attention on will seemingly grow because we didn’t realize how “big” it was in the first place. Keeping this in mind, it’s clear to see why watching the news can leave us feeling blue, but don’t let it pass you by that things really are getting better:
John Green, youtube celebrity and bestselling author, recently did a vlog (https://youtu.be/0VIaL7lbgv4) regarding Crime and Outrage. The youTube video boasts some some promising stats. For example:
- violent crime has dropped by 50% in the US since 1990
- unemployment is down in the U.S.
- economy has grown consistently since 2010
- Americans’ happiness score is higher in the 2015 report than in the 2010 report
- property crime is falling
And worldwide, stats are promising as well:
- According to UNESCO, literacy rates are improving world wide
- Access to healthcare is also becoming more widespread
- Organizations like KIVA are helping to financing small loans for people in third world countries.
3. Move Your Feet… or Mouse… or Wallet
True that watching a devastating chain of events unfold can leave us feeling helpless and immobilized behind the glass of a TV screen; however, at this point remind yourself that it is entirely within our power to “be the change you wish to see in the world” as Ghandi famously said.
No matter what impact we want to have in the world, by definition it has to start with ourselves. After steps one and two, now that we are cool calm and collected its time to act. Not every issue can be tackled hands on, but some can. There are many other ways we can act in this day and age, whether it be through donation or by signing an online petition at sites such as Care2,The Petition Site, and change.org. We have to actually change the world ourselves through active involvement, opening dialogues, donation, and spreading the word by all means possible. There is no such thing as a Slactivist. Many people will harp on those who are trying to make a difference by sharing things on Facebook or social media alike by calling them “Slacktivists,” but if it is a cause you truly believe in, a signature or small monetary donation can go a long way and shares can have more impact than money. Care2 recently published the 2015 success stories, many made possible by online campaigns (http://www.care2.com/causes/
Also, in the aforementioned video, Green recommends making sustainable efforts rather than random sporadic bursts of unorganized trials. What this means is to take steps to create lasting change, and rather than being inspired for an hour or a day, maybe use the news as a tool to restructure your life and make long lasting change that will truly shape the world around you. Remember: if you can make one person a day smile, in ten years time you will have created 365,000 smiles.
4. Peel Back the Rhetoric
Many of us don’t watch television with our thinking caps on. Why would we? It takes up too much cognitive effort. This can be a dangerous action, or lack of action, when it comes to our psyche. The emotive force of the words we are exposed to should be acknowledged so we can think critically about what we are being told. Teaching yourself to think critically and learning about rhetoric will arm you with the power to deconstruct the language and visuals you are exposed to, that way when you watch the news you can easily pick apart what is true and what is being exaggerated or twisted in the lime light just to catch viewer attention and increase ratings.
The founder of The Critical Thinker Academy (criticalthinkeracademy.com/), Kevin deLaplante, recently decided to offer his courses for free, saying “My urge has always been to make my video content free to the general public, because I think that critical thinking resources serve an important public good.” Learn to be an empowered viewer — able to scrutinize information, access the validity of arguments, spot logical fallacies, and acknowledge the rhetoric you are exposed to. It should be noted however, that rhetoric is, in and of itself not bad, in fact, rhetoric can and has been used to persuade people to do really great things. To learn more about using rhetoric for good, read from Jay Heinrichs, who teachings on persuasion are used win arguments, boost sales, and save the world.
Without getting caught up in the verbiage of things, we can just look at the facts being presented and then go from there.
5. Counter balance with Good News
Now that we can properly digest the mainstream news, get out there and look for all the good news that is happening! Whether it be big or small, look for the good news that will leave you feeling happy or refreshed. This could even be news within your family or small circle of friends, or you can actively find good news on sites such as The Daily Good (www.dailygood.org/) and The Good News Network (www.goodnewsnetwork.org/).
This echoes the great advice that Mr Rogers received by his mom. He said: ”When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
6. Believe the Children are Our Future
This may sound cheesy to some, but by definition it is true. Think of a child or a younger person now. Taking care of our children, yields a greater possibility of them taking care of their children and making the world a better place. In this day and age, we live in a globalized village. No matter where you are on the globe, if you have access to internet you can talk to anyone else who has internet as well and often times even see their face! And technology will only advance from here on out.
By leading through example, we can teach our children to be empathetic value education and to care about justice for others. Small steps to make the world a better place.
To teach kids about rhetoric and critical thinking (for free), check out kidCourses.com (links: http://kidcourses.com/
Last but not least, turn it off! It’s great to stay up to date on all the latest news but don’t forget to give yourself a break every now and then. Recognize that it does nothing to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Try getting out in nature, and connecting back to mother earth. It can be very relaxing at times to watch the breeze and it serves as a good reminder for all the beauty that this world has to offer.