My eyes brimmed with tears as I lay in bed, preparing to turn in for the day. I couldn’t help thinking about the fear, the hatred, and the catastrophes our world faces today. My routine includes staying informed by watching the news, but I had been watching too much. As described by Kaira Jewel Lingo in the podcast, "3 Buddist Strategies When The News is Overwhelming" on Ten Percent Happier, I realized this was driven partially by my desire to keep up-to-date, partly by my sense of duty towards humanity to stay informed, and lastly, because of our intrinsic human nature. We’re programmed to scan for threats as a survival mechanism, explaining the news’s magnetic pull. However, this same attraction can overshadow the presence of positivity in our lives, obscuring the joy that also surrounds us.
Considering the constant influx of information from myriad media sources that inundate us around the clock, it’s crucial to reflect on the balance between staying informed and over-indulging in news consumption. While awareness of global events is undeniably significant, there’s a tipping point where it becomes excessive—opting to pursue the news once a day can strip away some of the sensationalized nature, whether through watching or, perhaps more effectively, through reading. Spending consecutive hours in front of the television screen inundates our minds with content. This habitual practice can adversely affect society's mental well-being and shape a pessimistic perspective in life.
Undoubtedly, we find ourselves navigating unprecedented times amid global challenges. The Earth stands at a critical juncture: our collective dilemmas loom so large. that individual contributions may seem inconsequential - yet history is replete with ordinary individuals making extraordinary impacts. Take Rosa Parks, who sparked the civil rights movement, or Todd Beamer, whose bravery abroad a 9/11 flight thwarted a terrorist plan to target the Pentagon. Or consider Candy Lighter, whose personal tragedy birthed a powerful advocacy group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD).
To gain clarity on how we might effect change, it helps to begin by taking a moment to view the broader landscape of our situation. Remember that the many heartening tales and positive deeds performed by countless individuals worldwide each day don’t make it into the news headlines. Despite the prevalence of adverse reports, it’s essential to recognize that many extraordinary events are also occurring across the globe daily.
Krista Tippett’s insights on Dan Harris’s Ten Percent Happier Podcast, particularly in the episode “Three Skills for Staying Calm, Sane and Open in a Chaotic World,” resonate with me. Tippett articulates that individuals who manage to change the world confront reality with a “Yes, And" approach. The question then becomes, what will we choose to follow our “Yes, And? "
Much of this connects to how we look after our well-being. How do we attend to our physical health, mental serenity, and spiritual nourishment? Allocating moments to nurture these needs and to discover the happiness that is readily accessible in our surroundings will stabilize and root us in a sense of calm. As we establish a more solid foundation for ourselves, we position ourselves to act decisively. Doing so can positively and powerfully influence those within our immediate circles, and what lies after our” Yes, And’ has the potential to expand like the ripples from a stone thrown into a pond.
Never sell yourself short; your influence may help a dear friend or a neighbor or be as extensive or even beyond that of Rosa Park, Todd Beamer, or Candy Lighter, sparking a collective consciousness that advances us into the future from a stable and centered starting point.
My best to your health and that of our planet,