Friday, March 18, 2022

How to Keep Up with the News and Not Lose Your Mind



" A bomb makes more noise than a caress,
but for each bomb that destroys
there are millions of caresses that nourish life. "
FACUNDO CABRAL (1937 - 2011), Argentine Singer-Songwriter


With our world fraught with alarming events, it's especially important for us not to lose sight of all that continues to make life beautiful and worthwhile for us. I'm talking to myself here. As bad news bombards our minds, it takes a concerted effort to find the balance of staying informed and not getting bogged down in grim despair. We want to be careful not to miss the flowers in the garden because we're focused on the noxious weeds. No matter what is going on, if we are not directly involved in these conflicts, we have lives that need to be lived. We have blog posts to create. People to hug. Sunsets to watch. Laundry to fold. Meals to prepare. "Because even with the dark parts and the light parts and the good parts and the bad parts, dinner must still be served." from Once Upon A Wardrobe, Patti Callahan

Today I shamelessly borrow a few thoughts from British author Matt Haig. I've been reading his book of short essays Notes on a Nervous Planet. In it, he shares things that help him cope with the modern world we live in, including social media feeds that are constantly 'on'. He shares six ways that he finds helpful to keep up with the news and not lose his mind. Both #3 and #6 stand out for me at this time.
1. "Remember that how you react to the news isn't just about what the news is, but how you get it. The internet and breaking news channels report news in ways that make us feel disorientated. It is easy to believe things are getting worse, when they might just make us feel worse. The medium isn't just the message, it's the emotional intensity of that message." 

2. "Limit the amount of times you look at the news. As my Facebook friend Debra Morse recently commented: "Remember that in 1975 we typically got our news twice a day: morning paper and evening TV broadcast..." MY NOTE: Unless we are the ones directly involved, there's probably not much we can do, no matter how much we watch. And even as our hearts pray, we needs must carry on with life.

3. "Realize the world is not as violent as it feels. Many writers on this subject—such as the famed cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker—have pointed out that, despite all its horrors, society is less violent than it used to be. "There is definitely still violence," says the historian Yuval Noah Harari. "I live in the Middle East so I know this perfectly well. But, comparatively, there is less violence than ever before in history. Today more people die from eating too much than from human violence, which is really an amazing achievement."

4. "Be near animals. Nonhuman animals are therapeutic for all kinds of reasons. One reason is that they don't have news. (They) don't care. The things that are important to us—politics and economics and all of those fluctuating things—are not important to them. And their lives, like ours, still go on. . . . 

5. "Don't worry about things you can't control. The news is full of things you can't do anything about. Do the things you can do stuff about—raise awareness of issues that concern you, give whatever you can to whichever cause you feel passionate about, and also accept the things you can't do."

6. "Remember, looking at bad news doesn't mean good news isn't happening. It's happening everywhere. It's happening right now. Around the world. In hospitals, at weddings, in schools and offices and maternity wards, at airport arrival gates, in bedrooms, in inboxes, out in the street, in the kind smile of a stranger. A billion unseen wonders of everyday life."      

* * *

" Learn not to be shocked by the shock.
Not to be in a state of panic about the panic.
To change what you can change and
not get frustrated by what you can't.

There is no panacea, or utopia, there is just love
and kindness and trying, amid the chaos,
to make things better where we can."

MATT HAIG
Notes on a Nervous Planet, "In Praise of Positivity", p126



In closing, I share these words by Susan Branch. A reminder how not to go mad in a mad world, "And when the world seems to be falling apart around you, create something, put a flower in a vase, bake a pie, draw a picture, knit socks."


* * *

On that note,
I'm wishing you beauty and heart's ease this weekend.

Warm hugs,

Brenda

Kitty pic above is from Pixabay





27 comments:

  1. A lovely and most timely post, Brenda. I follow a pastor's wife in Ukraine on Facebook and this week she wrote about the birth of her first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl, born in the midst of bombs and chaos. Yet what joy the birth of this little one brought. A photo of the baby and parents beams with joy even in the midst of the horrors in Kyiv.
    Our becoming agitated does nothing to help the situation. And in another coincidence, I dragged myself out this afternoon to pick up a book on hold at the library - Once Upon a Wardrobe - and find that you have quoted it here.
    Enjoy a beautiful weekend of ordinary pleasures.

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    1. Lorrie, In life, so often the sweet and bitter mingles, a sure sign of our upside down world. Yet joy wins. I'm so happy to hear that news of the pastor's wife first grandchild being born - right there in the middle of darkness, light shines and new life begins. And I just started reading Once Upon a Wardrobe yesterday - I bought it earlier in the week, it was on my 'wanna read' list. I read that quote I mentioned earlier in the afternoon and I realized it fit perfectly with my post. I have no doubt you shall enjoy the book. She's a lovely writer.

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  2. I do agree that for the most part there is little we can do about all the turmoil in this world. I can pray and do that, but the rest I must leave in God's hands.

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    1. Yes, indeed, Ruth, praying and then leaving these things in His hands.

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  3. A most refreshing and encouraging post. Thank you.

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  4. Thos little beams of sunlight are often the one thing in a bad day which will turn our world around. Its too easy to be swamped by all the evil, terrible though it is. Thank you Brenda for such a timely reminder to us to look for the tiny things that bring balance to the world.

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    1. Oh yes, thank goodness for those little beams of sunlight that can turn the whole day around!

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  5. Thank you for this post. It's exactly what I needed! Have a beautiful weekend!

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  6. Brenda, I used to watch TV news all day long. About a year ago, I turned it off. It was difficult at first, but I am much happier. We have to choose how to spend our time. Susan Branch is right. Doing something that makes you and others feel better about themselves is more important than watching the latest negativity on TV. The sad and disappointing thing is that I can't trust what we're being told anyway. It's so controlled and manipulated. So, I pray for peace in our world and that evil will be brought to justice. Bless you.

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    1. Good for you, Ellen, for just switching it off. I have heard so many folks are plain happier and more at peace for doing that very thing. I join you in that prayer. xo

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  7. So true. I just don't follow the news at all anymore. Maybe I'm sticking my head in a hole but there is enough drama in real life. Everyone wants to be the first to share bad news & it grows with each telling. I so appreciate those who point out the good news.

    I follow the blogger Sean of the South(Sean Dietrich), both his blog & Instagram. He shares all the good he sees in day to day life. And lots of people write to him with good stories to share. We read his book out loud to each other during the fall of 2020 when we were so discouraged. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: A Memoir of Learning to Believe You’re Gonna Be Okay". It's the story of his father's suicide when Sean was a child but it's not really a sad book. Though I have never laughed & cried so much in the same sentence as I do when I read his writing.

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    1. So true, Jenny, there is enough drama in every day life. Thanks for the heads up on the blog you follow, the fellow who writes about the good he sees and hears. His book sounds most interesting... and hopeful. How lovely to read aloud to each other. I do read aloud to my husband, but haven't done so in a while. Thanks for the reminder. All the best, Jenny. xo

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  8. Much needed and excellent advice. It takes a lot of wisdom and grace to navigate in these difficult times of upheaval. I love the final line of Matt's quote, make things better where we can. Whether we're on the "frontlines" or keeping the home fires burning, one person doing what they can always makes a difference. Peace of mind and heart be present today.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy, for your note. That Matt, he really does have some good advice in his little book of essays.

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  9. As Mr. Rogers'mother told him after the disasters look for the helpers and there are many...

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  10. Lovely post, Bren. I enjoyed it very much. But, like yours my heart aches for the people of Ukraine. I pray that hope will see them through these terrible days.

    Wishing you pretty spring blooms and lovely birds singing of the season!

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    1. Oh Sandra, while our hearts ache for the pain of others, I'm so grateful we have comfort in those lovely, good gifts that I believe come from the good God above. Loving gestures, warm breezes, green tips in a warming earth.... Life really is that paradox of light and dark, good and evil, sweet and bitter. And as I've grown older, I've come to learn somehow that I can carry both in my heart at the same time. It's like the opposites of the same coin, maybe. I know Susan Branch, on occasion, has mentioned that she has what she calls compartments in her mind/heart - some spaces in her mind for the joys of life and spaces where the sad things dwell. I think that is how my own heart deals with these great opposites - learning to live with both at the same time. This morning the sun shines and there is a real feeling of Spring in the air. The birds certainly notice it's Spring -- their songs delight me today. Heart hugs, Brenda xo

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  11. I don't know how people survive with a steady diet of the news. We watch a few minutes at 5 pm in the evening just to catch up. It's distressing and we need to be knowledgable but not to the point it upsets us all day long. You can always go online and check it too. Thanks for this beautiful post! Happy Sunday!

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    1. Yes, Diane, it would be a lot like being on a diet of junk food. Definitely not balanced. Thanks for your note - much appreciated!

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  12. I find it is hard to find the proper balance between the extremes of turning a deaf ear to others' pain and suffering and being consumed with misery that I can do nothing to change. Neither extreme is good, but where in the "in between" is the right place to land?

    So I do what I can. I pray for the situation and especially for the people. I ask that my heart be soft and compassionate. And I live my life one day at a time, knowing that He will give me the grace that I need for whatever is in my todays and in my tomorrows.

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    1. I think you said it, Cheryl, we do what we can when we can, we stay compassionate, living our lives one day at a time, knowing He gives grace as we need it. xo

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  13. That is a lovely post, Brenda. And I love your header, too. It's so easy to lose sight of the good things around us when we are bombarded with bad news. My heart breaks for the people (especially children) of Ukraine as I am sure you and millions of others. It's just unfathomable that one person can cause such a hell on earth. But we cannot focus entirely on that, as you indicated. Crocuses will still push themselves up and out of the frozen earth; tulips, daffodils, and muscari will be coming around the corner soon, and there still are good people in the world. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Dear Susan, My husband and I sat in our car yesterday, in a very long line up that didn't seem to move an inch...all because people across our community were moved, as we were, to contribute to a plane that will be heading to Poland for the relief of Ukrainians on the run. While bad people continue to do bad things, there are so many good people doing good things too. My heart was comforted to see the outpouring of love and compassion as we all tried to converge on that spot where items were being collected. We'll keep holding these dear folks in our hearts asking Love to cover them in this terrible time.

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  14. This is just what I needed to read this week! #5 and #6 particularly resonated with me.

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To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xox

PS. I do not always comment here, but I do look forward to coming and visiting you....