News and Information Overload
There was a time, not that terribly long ago, where we could go about our day and focus on the moment. Sure, it was easy to have distracting thoughts, but there were less outside distractions. You could read the morning or evening paper, watch the news at 6 or 11 pm, and listen to the radio on your daily commute and that was more than enough. You considered yourself reasonably well informed.
It's difficult now to stay away from media noise. Cable and radio news shows are on 24 hours a day. Podcasts and blogs and social media are everywhere, on every device. We live in a time of "influencers." While you are working, your phone is in your pocket or on a desk, chirping or vibrating with but another piece of breaking news. Some of it is needed - there is bad weather rolling in or the interstate is closed down because of an accident. There is a boil water notice in your city because of a water main break. I remember a station with a slogan "news that you can use." That wasn't exactly true, but it did include some news that I could use to make the day go smoother.
To be a good neighbor and engaged citizen, it is important to know what is going on in the world. But because there are so many sources, every news outlet is trying to out-do the other and they jump on every tidbit of information. Worse, there is information that is readily available that is less than truthful. So on top of the deluge, we are tasked with sorting it all out. Most of us are suffering from information overload. While we are trying to juggle a career, finances, relationships, families, health, nutrition, and sometimes illness, addictions, transportation and housing challenges, and for the last couple of years - a pandemic, our everyday lives are more challenging than ever.
It is not out of our control to prioritize how to access and process information without shutting all of it out. As I've said many times, there is no magic solution to anything. What works for one person does not work for another.
That said, over time I've learned a few tricks that work for me.
Listen to the original source. For instance, if the president (regardless of who is in office or if I voted for them) makes a speech, I listen to the speech rather than listen to media interpretations of what the speech means. I do the same for all politicians. I am capable of forming my own opinion of their message. After that, I may or may not listen to media opinions that are in agreement or disagreement.
Talk to my friends and family directly and find out what challenges and successes they are experiencing. Just listening helps people talk out and work out their own problems and sometimes helps them to make a decision. I try not to give my opinion unless they seriously ask for one, and even then, refer them to a professional when I don't know the precise information. I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a doctor, etc.
Without fail, I carve out 5 minutes several times a day to practice mindfulness, to be fully present in the moment. I can't imagine a day without mindful moments. For me, the responsibilities I have during the day are more manageable because of those moments.
Without fail, I carve out 5 minutes to pray every day. Sometimes I give thanks and sometimes I ask for guidance.
I try not to make promises that I can't keep due to time, physical ability, or even lack of interest. Learning to say "No, I am not able to help you with that" is better than saying (at least for me) "Call me if you need anything at all!" It's honest and it's fair. When I make a commitment, I mean it.
All of us like some people more than others. I try my best to treat everyone respectfully and I find that in return, I am respected. I removed myself from the social media platforms that delivered more hate and division than friendship and human connection. That was the easiest control of information overload because it wasn't information at all. I can't fix "toxic" but I can choose not to engage. Sometimes social media is anti-social media.
I read. Reading can be an escape, informative, and enlightening.
I turn off the cell phone every night. Should I need to leave it on all night, I turn off all notifications. Ah, peace and quiet.
Life of Virtuous Evolution ~ Be Calm, Be Zen ~ Peace