Recently I read someone talking about the media. This is someone I respect a lot – someone much wiser than I on many issues. Still, what he said made me think one of us must have missed the point.
He was talking about someone he knew, who bragged about never reading the news because… well, because it’s awful.
He said to this person – yeah, it’s awful. But the answer isn’t to bury your head in the sand. You have to stay informed, for good and bad stuff!
I wonder what part of the mainstream media he watches if he sees any good stuff.
Eliminate stories about someone in a different city dying, whether through murder or an accident. That’s half the news gone. If you rule out scandals, corruption, natural disasters and other bad stuff, you’ve eliminated 98% of TV news’ screen time.
Hate to break it to you but the world isn’t 98% bad.
(Wait, no, I love breaking that to you.)
Because here’s the thing: the media’s job isn’t to inform you, it’s to entertain you.
And for some strange quirk of psychology, bad news is more entertaining than good news. Well, I guess it’s not so strange. Negativity bias is universal and, honestly, useful. An apple tree (something positive) is less relevant than a tiger (something negative), because you can’t eat an apple from inside a tiger’s stomach.
So, sure, negativity bias kept our ancestors alive. It probably keeps us alive too.
But that doesn’t mean it’s good to dwell on it.
Your unconscious mind constructs its view of reality from what you see, hear and think. If you hear, every day, how bad and scary the world is, it warps how you see the world.
It’s like junk food for your mind, only probably worse.
So what am I saying – you should just avoid all media stories forever?
Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s not that radical if you start asking yourself, after hearing yet another gutwrenching fatality being portrayed as a typical and interesting event:
“Am I better informed now?”
If going cold turkey is too much for you, you could focus on sites that report positive news. Don’t think that’s wussy filler – there are enough good things in a day to fill a news cycle.
You can take this even further, though. You can teach your unconscious mind – the very same that’s building these models of the world – that it’s a wonderful place.
Yes, bad things happen.
Yes, it’s bitter, miserable and ugly at times.
But that’s not the whole story.
And if you train your mind to see beauty, goodness, kindness and opportunities, you’ll create more of these things.
That’s the point of the mental models – to steer you towards what you expect.
And you can begin that training now, at no charge.
That’s my gift to you.
Here’s the link: