Do You Want to Stay Positive? Turn Off the News

That’s right: one way to stay positive is to turn off the news. From CNN (ironically):

“For somebody that’s unemployed right now, you need to turn off the news,” he said. “It will affect the positive attitude you need to have. You’ve got to be positive, because it’s not easy. All you read is the job cuts: It can be very depressing.”

The suggestion is made in the context of unemployment, but I think it’s a good suggestion that apply to many situations. I won’t be as drastic as recommending you to cut off the news completely (though some people literally do that), but I think it’s a good idea to reduce your news consumption. There are at least two reasons why reducing your news consumption is good:

  1. Most news is negative. As the quote above says, there is a lot of negativity in the news. While you may treat the news as just facts, exposing yourself continually to them may affect your subconscious mind. Reading negative news about the economy, for instance, may make you think that you have no chance, that there is no way for you to get the great future you want. It won’t do you any good since it will only make you discouraged. Even worse, the negative thought may eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  2. News is biased in nature. To understand what I mean, you might want to watch this video from TED. In the video, you will see that news coverage is not proportional. Some issues get covered more than they deserve while some important issues don’t get the level of coverage they need. Reading news may make you overestimate some issues while underestimating some others. This will eventually affect your actions.

I can still think of other reasons but these two already make the point: excessive news consumption could distort your thoughts and actions.
So what should we read and hear instead?
I don’t have a conclusive answer to this question, but I have an idea: consume timeless materials. Consume materials that will be useful and relevant for you not just now but also in the future.
One activity that meets the criterion is reading books. Reading books can give you timeless principles and lessons that will always be useful for you. Instead of reading something that doesn’t last, why don’t you read something that lasts? So, if I may suggest, reduce your news consumption and use the time instead to read good books. You may start with some recommended books or classic books.
It’s just my opinion, of course. What’s yours?
Photo by Evil Erin

28 Comments

  1. Don, I never watch the news. I got tired of all the negativity. You free up time to make news, rather than just watch news 🙂
    -Nate

  2. Television and media systems will only lower your consciousness levels extremely. What you put in, is what you will get out. Most people put in a daily dose of TV and radio media. Unaware that these broadcasting systems are used through a very precise frequency, no matter what the channel they both give off an exact frequency of unnatural vibrations that trigger a design to disengage the natural body frequency and stimulate a frequency of fear. This frequency wavelength bypasses the audible range of the consciousness.
    When I was doing my experiment with Polyphasic Sleep. I discovered much about TV. I noticed how much I drown out the TV while I sit in front of it. I realized that most of the time. I was not even watching the TV. I found it quite annoying while doing this experiment! I did not even want to be in the same room as a TV when it is on. It just seems to add less meaning to everything being in front of the TV. I noticed too that I literally feel ill by watching it (if you are curious to know more about Polyphasic Sleep and what I experienced, goto my website {by clicking on my name above} and you will see Polyphasic Sleep in the “Categories” section on the left-hand sidebar).
    No matter where the source of media is coming from (television, newspapers, internet news, radio) it is designed to control the general population in a variety of ways. Newspapers and internet news are the same concept being viewed using different tools. Within news that you read, the words used to embark upon the subject matter at hand, will have a direct negative effect the mind. The easiest way to see what I mean is to use an example like yahoo news. Read an article within the news post and just notice as you read the words of the posted article how many words are ‘negative’ (from your point of view). If you allow yourself the feeding of negative information continuously, then the mind will start to adopt that negativity through a gradual manipulation and habitual routine.
    The most common and most illusionary form of media exposure, is pulling the mind into thinking one thing about what is happening, when in actuality the events taking place have nothing to do with what the mind produces. Through manipulation it programs the mind to thinking in a very fixed way. In this way, there is no reason to question anything about what you are seeing or hearing.
    Thank you for the informative post! This is the kinda of news people need 🙂

  3. Unfortunately, I think I am addicted, but I have had some of the same thoughts. For example, CNN and MSNBC covered the Illinois governor story forever, it seemed, and ignored everything else while it was going on. And they just look for drama and conflict and often focus on that, even when it’s no big deal. I think you’re right. Watching too much news — or what passes for it in today’s world — is not such a good thing to do.

  4. Thanks for pointing out the dangers of watching the news, especially nonstop. Whenever we watch especially network news we must remember that it is a program whose content and distribution of time was selected by a director with a keen eye to profits.
    During the recent election I chose to watch news commentary presenting opposing viewpoints and reactions rather than just the news itself. But too much TV of any kind just distracts us from the good and abundance that are available in our own lives and derails us from taking actions that lead to our own happiness.

  5. I worked that one out a lonnngg time ago! In fact, we now have it to a ‘fine art’ of recording nearly everything on foxtel first- even if only 15 minutes before watching it. That way we can fast-forward the ADS!! They are even more evil for your well-being than the news! Ads work on the same theory as most ‘news’ – fear hooks people in, so they watch longer and therefore watch morre bloody ads.

  6. Nate,

    You free up time to make news, rather than just watch news 🙂

    Great idea. I love it!
    Nicholas,

    Read an article within the news post and just notice as you read the words of the posted article how many words are ‘negative’ (from your point of view).

    That’s a good way to prove the negativity of the news.
    Jo,
    Your example of the Illinois governor story is a good example of how the media over-emphasizes some issues while overlooking others. That makes the news biased.
    Flora,

    But too much TV of any kind just distracts us from the good and abundance that are available in our own lives

    I agree. It applies not just to news but to other TV programs as well.
    MP,
    Yes, the ads are dangerous. Since ads are purely profit-oriented, they apply a lot of psychological “tricks” to persuade us. I’m glad I almost never watch TV 🙂

  7. Like any good newsman, I believe that if you’re not scared, I’m not doing my job. Stephen Colbert

    My wife and I don’t watch news at all, but I know a retired couple that have the TV on in the background while tuned into CNN. It’s interesting when talking with them just how how different their perspectives are from our own. It seems their perspective leans towards fear and anger.

  8. Youre right on the off button there.
    Most news appears to keep me uninformed beyond the emotional tag lines and picture bites. I feel dumber after 10 mins exposure to its content. Its difficult to find major news programs offering any sound ideas or info behind whats happening around us. At least the net allows us to explore and discriminate upon many more sources. I may even get smarter as a result!
    I look forward to the day when news is about how people are enjoying more freedom of real choice, feeling better about themselves, realising that wealth is also about informed optimism, acceptance across cultures and belief systems and a sensible education system as well as having access to food, shelter, water, sanitation and maybe just maybe, if it aint to embarrasing to mention in this western society, love.
    Nate, I like your quote!

  9. Hi Donald,
    I discovered your blog on mybloglog.
    I filter out the bad news by carefully choosing what I want to watch on CNN online every other day. If you are unemployed and if you are stressed or depressed watching the news everyday is the worst thing you can do for your health.
    I worked at a company here in London where they have Sky news on all day, the boss would not let us turn it off and I did suffer with depression at the time. I couldn’t bear another day of listening to another story about war, murder or some accident. Now there is constant coverage of the credit crunch, recession and unemployment rate.
    I used to come in from work and collapse on the sofa and watch hours of pointless TV, now I watch very little TV. I have 3 shows which I watch every week and the rest of the time I am either on the internet writing, reading a book or spending time with my friends and family.
    Nicholas is absolutely right, it is designed to stimulate a frequency of fear.
    Positive stories don’t sell as well. Go into any newspaper/magazine store and you will see which magazines and newspapers sell out first.

  10. While, I do agree on reading timeless books to stay positive and motivated especially in trying times. News stories are there for a reason. Biased or negative it may be.
    I say we just choose the news we watch / read. I regularly check weather news. Before traveling, I also read news related on peace and order situation of a city I am going into. Better be safe than sorry.

  11. I was just commenting to my husband that if the news only reported positive stories and projected optimism about the future of the economy, housing market, etc. – even for a week or two – there would certainly be a change of attitude around the nation.

  12. Gwynn,
    Your experience is a good example of how the news can affect our perspective. A nice quote, by the way 🙂
    Jens,
    I look forward to that day too.
    Michelle,

    Positive stories don’t sell as well. Go into any newspaper/magazine store and you will see which magazines and newspapers sell out first.

    What you are saying, unfortunately, is true.
    Adventurous,
    I don’t recommend turning off the news completely either. There is some useful information there. Just, as you said, we need to be selective.
    Heather,
    I agree. It’s not that we deny the truth; it’s that we choose to look at what’s going on with a positive attitude.

  13. Everyone I know who has gotten rid of their TV has noticed how stressful it is to be around one again whether in a hotel, lobby, or a friend’s house. It’s not the shows… most of us still watch (ad-free) shows through DVDs or AppleTV–it’s the news and ads.
    And if you have cable, you can’t simply choose not to watch the news–the little news promos that pop in are enough to cause damage. A neuroscientist, Richard Restak, has written quite a lot about what news does to your brain (several books, Google or Amazon for more). He does make a big point, however, about research showing the SAME news delivered via radio rather than television has far less negative consequences.
    Switching from television news to NPR news is one of the best things you can do for your brain.
    Thanks for the post…

  14. I wholeheartedly agree with you. The news is the news because it shocks and highlights what’s going on in the world. Now for some reason the trend is to pick up on bad news not good news – that’s what sells newspapers, encourages subscription etc. I scan for any news that I have to know about for my job, other than that I don’t bother – I know I’ll hear from friends/colleagues anything else that I’m missing.
    I’d rather read good news, the stuff that encourages and motivates people rather than the killer content that is the popular news diet.

  15. Great post! I have been on a news fast for the last 4 years…seems I am still informed as when something gets my attention through conversation or an email I research it getting many perspectives and forming an opinion from there.
    No need to know the sensational stories of events I can do nothing about. Time is much better spent in my circle of influence without fear and discouragement from the news.
    Of course this is easy for me as I gave up watching TV at the same time and now wonder how do people find the time. to invest in television.
    I look forward to much more from you.
    Aloha!

  16. I’ve been off TV news for about 10 years now, and I’ve found I’m more informed, and less stressed out about the world around me. The visual medium of TV is inherently about delivering emotion and visceral responses that leap past your reasoning and burrow into your lizard brain.
    Try reading a good daily newspaper, a good news weekly, and a monthly news magazine for three months, with no TV. You’ll be amazed.

  17. akomolede raphael
    akomolede raphael

    Thank you for the article. However i have the following comments
    1. News is a source of information. And you need infromation to move from the level you are. Turn off news may close door for many opportunity
    2. Opportunity abound in every situation. News taht are neagtive to someone is an opportunity for another person, we still need to listen to news.
    3. i think what is essetila is management of information or news.
    4. Our attitude to news that we heard detremine the effect.

  18. sir, would u tell me pareto ways about 80/20?
    only 20 percent really matter. Those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results

  19. This point is very pertinent to Western society and the state of mind of a large number of people. I am particularrly aware of certain individuals who listen to news morning noon and night. Their stress levels is proportional to the degree of conflict and negative stories they hear. What they are told is what they accept and permit to effect their energy vibration and life perspective.To give up listening to someone else’s version of what is important will change your life. Your health and well-being benefit in ways you only discover yourself via experience. The truth must be felt.

  20. Kathy,

    Switching from television news to NPR news is one of the best things you can do for your brain.

    That’s a great tip! I didn’t know that there is such a difference between news on TV and other media.
    Honor,

    I scan for any news that I have to know about for my job, other than that I don’t bother

    What I learn from you is we should focus on the news that directly affect what we do.
    Gina,

    Time is much better spent in my circle of influence without fear and discouragement from the news.

    I agree completely. The news often makes us worried about things we can’t do anything about. It’s better to focus on things we can do something about.
    Erik,

    Try reading a good daily newspaper, a good news weekly, and a monthly news magazine for three months, with no TV.

    From your and Kathy’s comment, a conclusion I make is it’s better to consume news from media other than TV.
    Akomolede,
    I agree that the news has good information in it, but it can also spread negativity. So I think we should be selective and focus on our circle of influence (Gina’s comment).
    Chika,
    Yes, that’s what Pareto principle says. Applied to the news, 20% of the news gives 80% of the value we get. So we need to focus on the 20%.
    Liara,

    Their stress levels is proportional to the degree of conflict and negative stories they hear.

    That’s true in my experience.

  21. RIGHT ON!
    watching “news” on TV and listening to all kinds of “talkshows” on the radio in the car, is extremely destructive.
    WHY should we listen to news on CNN or other stations, when 90% of these news are not correct and majority is inaccurate and many are fabricated..?!
    Thanks GOD we’re in the internet age and we can decide what IS news and what is NOT.
    Radio in the car is best for relaxing music…BUT there is hardly ANY relaxing music today. Mostly it’s crap, rap…and all other tasteless garbage called “music”, man singing songs that have no melody, have no nothing. Where are talents that we had in 50s-70s, that created classics in kind of music…where..????

  22. Hi there,
    I myself have been subscribing to this thought pattern for a long time, but whenever I advocate the principle to anyone else, I get the answer/question, “Nonsense! How can one not listen to the news?
    How do you keep up-to-date with events? You can’t stick your head in the sand, because it is NEWS! that is what is actually happening!”
    I really have no answer in defense (Has anyone else?) except that I personally just listen to the news, in one ear and out the other, don’t dwell upon it and don’t let it affect me – it’s difficult when it is something that strikes a chord within you, mine is animal abuse, but even a report about that is beyond your control, as activism just exacerbates any issue it is trying to resolve.

  23. I already wrote a blog post on this and in the process found your article, awesome! It is near impossible to explain to people why following the news is bad for you…ah well I try.
    http://atulsworld.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/118/

  24. the only very very important thing that can enrich your life from the news is perhaps 1%. the rest is junk

  25. Keeping a positive outlook is one thing but sticking your head in the sand and pretending the outside world does not exist is perhaps just as bad. We need to keep informed in this information age. Perhaps a better choice is to pick your news sources carefully. NPR rather than NBC. Not only is the quality and content better but, there are none of those deadly life defeating commercials which do nothing but turn us into rabid consumers.

  26. I cry when I see tv news (no matter the content). The behavior of the tv speakers expresses symbolic violence, glorification of violence, military drill, fascism, elation, pathos, contempt for traditional human values.

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