Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Week of Beauty, Day 4: Serenity


How many times do you focus on what’s wrong with the world instead of what’s right?  It may come as a surprise to you but it’s not your job to take on the worries of the planet, you’ll only make yourself sick with the stress. 

Believe it or not you can actually keep up with what’s going on around the world without immersing yourself daily in the sensationalist and stressful information product that is the news. 

Alarm bells people: the news is not impartial.  We are only ever presented with a skewed perspective that suits that news service and their advertisers, and most of the time these stories are negative.  Don’t give them your mental airspace! 

Here are just some of the stories you are unlikely to hear on the news:

Couple has long and happy marriage and lives in a quiet and peaceful way
Office worker sets up longstanding automatic payment to her favourite charity
Woman helps out elderly neighbour with her shopping every week
Group of friends finally set off for overseas trip they have been saving for and planning for two years

You will just not hear those stories because they do not sell.  Sadly only the bad stuff sells newspapers, increases page views and creates riches for the news companies.  So why should we play into their hands?  Opt out, delete the news!  Don’t worry about missing out - you will hear the headlines from others anyway, guaranteed.

Enrich your life and focus on what’s beautiful in the world instead.  Start with your own world and work your way out from there.  Be a shining beacon of light and hope.  Be that person others love to spend time with because you are always cheery and upbeat.

And what can you do with that extra half hour or one hour a day that you now have? 

Read something enjoyable instead – it might be uplifting, inspiring or laugh out loud funny.  All these things have a much better effect on your health – both mental and physical.

Go to a movie – mingle with others outside your home and see something new.  I prefer happy or funny movies myself.  I’m not paying money to be stressed or made to feel bad.

Decide to learn something new or take up a craft. 

Make a home-cooked dinner. 

Call, write to or email a friend.

Choose how you might help another – set up a small Automatic Payment donation, knit premature baby tops or puppy coats.

Start your book – keep the negative thoughts at bay and just do it – you are good enough to finish that book, just keep writing.  You only lose if you quit.

What about you, are you a news person?  Do you have a secret as to how to keep up with what’s going on without spending too much time or draining your energy by reading the news?


  1. I've never been a big news watcher, or much television at all for that matter. We cancelled our cable a few months ago and I find life to be so much more peaceful. I don't have horrible news stories, advertisements, etc being pushed at me all day long. Often we'd just turn the tv on out of habit and not really watch anything. I forgot how nice it is to just have peace and quiet at home without those television voices. I do a lot more reading now which I enjoy so much more than a tv.

  2. I don't keep up with the news at all and I'm so much happier for it! If there's something major going on in the world I hear about it from friends and family anyway so I don't feel completely cut off from the world! Love your blog!

  3. I think this is so important -- we need to take advantage of the beauty in the world! For news I like The Daily Skimm here in the U.S. It gives highlights of the day's news and there is a snarky touch to it. It's just enough.

  4. Hi Fiona,

    I really struggle with this because I feel like I'm constantly reading/watching things that upset me. I do need to consciously make a decision to only take in positive things as much as humanly possible. My husband always says, "Garbage in, garbage out", and it's true because putting that negative stuff in my brain affects everything else I do.

    Thanks for this great reminder! :)


  5. Finding your own sweet spot for serenity in our world of constant, all-the-time everything can be a challenge. Reading a newspaper doesn't stress me out because I can easily see and skip the items that are annoying or not relevant for me. I grew up in a family where people did do things to help shape public policy and so I don't view it all as futile to keep up with things I think are important.

    I gave up watching TV, though, more than 25 years ago because during a period when I was bedridden and watched TV a lot since I had no energy to read, I came to dislike the feeling of being manipulated by advertising, drama, canned laughter and so on. I could even feel my heart rate go up, it was so bad. I've never missed it since. Recently, when at a friend's house watching TV, the old feeling of annoyance and anxiety came back, so I know I've made a good choice. I stick to choosing the odd movie that looks really appealing instead.


  6. Fiona, I know you're a podcast listener so let me recommend this one from Freakonomics: Why Do We Really Follow the News

    I enjoyed it so much and I thought it was a very insightful discussion of the validation some people get from being very well informed.

    For me personally, I find I want to know what's happening at a macro level. I feel very disconnected from the world and like I'm living in a very insular little bubble if I don't skim the headlines. But that's where I stop. In depth analysis and long, windy arguments about specific topics exhaust me and leave me more depressed than enlightened. I'd rather do the things you suggest and live an informed, but less stressed out, life.

  7. I stopped reading or watching or listening to most news a few years ago & have never regretted it. I find that I still learn about anything truly important through one source or another. I don't indulge in social media of any sort and actively avoid anything to do with celebrities, Hollywood or anything with even a whiff of the usually mean-spirited gossip that masquerades as "news". A long time ago I saw a tee-shirt with the phrase "eschew gossip" on the front. The phrase has stuck to me like glue for some reason and I have made it abundantly clear to anyone who knows me that I won't tolerate gossip or the latest "bad news drama" or "ain't it awful" tidbits.

    In the past year I've told my elderly neighbour that I do not want to hear about her unhelpful family, her operations, constipation or bowel movements. I told a friend that I could no longer listen to her endless complaints about her job, husband, marriage & life unless she was willing to do something to change them. She stopped calling. I don't miss her. I read over 200 books/year & they *all* have happy endings. I love upbeat movies (& SF epics!) I hang out in blogs like this one & others that focus on the good things in life. I foster cats, walk SPCA dogs, dance to rock and roll & laugh with friends until my sides ache.

  8. Hi Fiona, This is precisely why I love to read Hen-lit books (the older version of Chick-lit aimed at 40+ women like us). For escapism, I think it's a simple, innocent, and better-than-watching-tv activity.

    Just last night I meditated before bed. I was feeling overwhelmed, just like you say, with watching the news. I'm one of those who try to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and what good does that do? Not much, unless I put something positive into action, right?

    I do try to watch the news though, because I want to know what is happening locally at least. I have a teen in high school here in the U.S. and I want to make sure she is safe. Unfortunately, I think knowing what is going on daily, locally, for parents is necessary. There is just too much violence going on in this country now in schools, movie theaters, and formally safe public places.

  9. Janet, I'd really love to know how you told people you don't want to hear about their constipation (!!!) and complaints. I'd feel so rude, how do you do it politely?

    KBG thank you very much for the podcast recommendation, it will be accompanying me on a walk in the very near future.

  10. I enjoy your blog very much.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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