In times of tumult, it’s easy to get caught up on nearly every major issue making the news. This is an ill-advised practice.
It doesn’t matter on what side of the political spectrum you fall: These days, it’s easy to open a newspaper, surf the web, flip on the TV or tap your smartphone to find news items from around the world that are not to your liking. If this happens to you once a day, consider yourself lucky. For most people, it happens multiple times a day.
All we can do is all we can do. Become the master of your own domain and that will be fine. Open up your intellectual kimono to every issue that comes your way, and you’ll soon feel frustrated and defeated.
Considering the volume of news and information, that is relevant to us, the chance of ever “staying on top of it” is nil. So, what can each of us do? Can we proceed effectively in our career and in our lives knowing that blizzard of information becomes newly available in the bat of an eyelash? Yes. Understand that everyone is the same boat and the ability to keep up is not some individual or personal failing. Virtually every fully functioning adult faces the same dilemma, continually.
Recognize that we don’t need to pay heed to every little detail that comes down the pike. Viable shortcuts exist. Some come in the way of abstracts and synopses. Some are provided to us by objective editors and writers who have studied an issue and who offer their sustained observations and opinions.
Here are four ways to maintain some semblance of equanimity throughout the course of the day, week, month, year and your career, despite the news.
- Pick a handful of causes or issues that you choose to follow and/or support. You can’t be on top of everything and can’t give your heart out in all directions. Narrow the field to what really matters to you and then give yourself permission to dive deeply into those issues.
- Don’t waste any time sparring online with others or trying to convince anybody else of your viewpoint when it’s clear that they’ve already dug in their heels. It’s fine for people to arrive at consensus, but it’s a mutual process. If one party is too heavily invested in achieving a particular outcome, when the other is not, pretty much nothing is going to happen.
- Give yourself a recurring rest from current events. That in turn helps to alleviate some of your stress and anxiety. You’ve likely got decades to go in this life. You don’t want to dissipate too much more of your time on issues upon which you can do nothing. Pick your spots, stay true to your interests, and recognize that it will be all right. You can take time away from the information maelstrom. There is no cosmic scoreboard detailing whether or not you’ve kept pace hour by hour or day by day. You deserve a break today. Give yourself some time without tuning in.
- Recognize that breaking news, as well as fads and what is currently trending, has a way of going by the wayside quickly. Rather than get caught up in the minutia of popular culture, focus on long-term trends.
- Where is humanity heading?
- What will the health be of the typical adult 10 years from now?
- What major milestones are likely to be accomplished within the next decade?
By focusing on the long-term, rather than just fads or current events, you give yourself the opportunity to consider the affairs of humanity from a better vantage point.
The time in your life
From a practical standpoint, by focusing on the long-term you also free up the amount of time you have on a given day. Who among us has unlimited amounts of time to be pulled into this story, and that feature and this argument, and so on, ad infinitum?
Our lives are finite whereas the issues to which we could be exposed know no end. It’s time to pay homage to a mere handful of issues that resonate with you and to have the mental and emotional strength to leave the rest.