What To Do About News

>> Saturday

The Center for Media and Public Affairs did a study on network coverage of murder. Between 1990 and 1995, the murder rate in the U.S. went down 13 percent. But during that same period, network coverage of murders increased 300 percent. If you happened to watch a lot of news during that period, you would have gotten the impression that murders in America were escalating out of control, when in fact that situation was improving.

A research team edited news programs into three categories: Negative, neutral, or upbeat. People were randomly assigned to watch one category of news. The ones who watched the negative news became more depressed, more anxious about the world in general, and they had a greater tendency to exaggerate the magnitude or importance of their own personal worries.

It is a fact that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness cause depression and the health problems related to depression. And studies have shown that the greater majority of network news is about people with no control over their tragedy. "What the evening news is telling you," said Christopher Peterson, one of the first researchers to show that pessimism negatively affects health, "is that bad things happen, they hit at random, and there's nothing you can do about it." That is a formula for pessimism, cynicism, and a generally negative attitude toward the world and the future.

In one study of network news, 71 percent of news stories were about people who had very little control over their fate. This is neither an accurate or a helpful perspective on the world. Highly trained professionals scour the world to find stories like that and the way the stories are presented gives the impression that those kinds of events are more common than they really are.

Professor of psychiatry Redford Williams suggests asking yourself these two questions when you're watching or reading the news:

1. Is this important to me?
2. Is there anything useful I can do about it?

If you answer no to either of those questions, change the channel or find something better to read.

Read more...

Someone Makes You Feel Bad Fairly Often? Here's What to Do About It

>> Friday

DOES SOMEONE'S negative attitude ruin your mood often? You can do something about it but it may not be what you think. Let's look at an example and see how it works.

John’s wife sometimes gets grumpy, and her bad mood makes him unhappy. He thinks she shouldn't be in a bad mood so often. She “allows herself” to be irritated by things that are really no big deal.

A few times John has been angry enough to tell Darleen to quit being such a negative person, but it didn’t go well.

What can he do? How can John change Darleen’s attitude? If he did, John is sure he would be happier.

This is a fairly common situation, but there is an inherent flaw in the whole thing. Let's think about this for a second. Something is happening that puts Darleen in a bad mood. Darleen’s bad mood puts John in a bad mood. Darleen would like the circumstances to change so she isn’t in a bad mood. John would like Darleen to change so he is not in a bad mood.

In other words, John is doing exactly what Darleen is doing, and then he is self-righteously condemning her for what they are both doing.

If John can’t get himself into a better mood regardless of what Darleen is doing, what right does he have to ask Darleen to do so? And if John can get himself into a good mood regardless of what Darleen is doing, he no longer needs Darleen to change her mood to suit him.

Either way, if you find yourself in the same position as John, you need only to focus on one thing: Improve your own mood regardless of what the other person is doing.

If you can do that, you won’t need to change the other person. At that point, however, you would be in a position to help the other person by telling her what you’ve done that works. And your showing and telling wouldn’t be done in self-righteous anger or impatience. It would only be done out of caring because you no longer need her to change. You no longer have any urgency or a demanding demeanor. And you also understand how challenging it can be. That will make your suggestions much easier to accept.

And you’re in a position where whether she accepts your help or not, you’re okay either way because you know how to improve your own mood regardless of what she does.

Read more...

A Practical (and Somewhat Spiritual) Technique to Improve Your Mood

>> Sunday

I WAS WATCHING the movie Kundun, the true story of the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the things that struck me was how peaceful he was. The actor radiated a deep calm. I understand the real Dalai Lama does too, even under catastrophic circumstances such as those portrayed in the movie.

As part of their spiritual practice, the Buddhists in Tibet say prayers to bring enlightenment to all beings. They wish others well and pray that people find happiness and peace.

I have tried this and found it feels good. Wishing others well — only in my head, now, I'm not talking about saying anything aloud — feels soothing and calming. One of the most distressing experiences is being angry at people and feeling hurt by them.

The habit of wishing others well counteracts those feelings very directly. It makes sense that the practice would lead to peace and calm.

If you were in almost continual prayer or meditation, you could probably remain as tranquil as a holy person, no matter what happened. I know, I know, that's crazy, right? You've got a life to live, and you're not about to meditate your life away. But I'm thinking more along these lines: What if when you met with someone, you occasionally said something like this to yourself, "May you find happiness." (Buddhists believe the most fundamental desire of all people is to be happy.)

What would that do to your state of mind? What if while you were walking to your car to go to work, you said a silent prayer for all beings? What state would that put you in? Would you be calmer or more tolerant if someone tailgated you? I think you would. And why not? Most of the negative thoughts we think about other people are worse than worthless. Why not replace those thoughts with blessings for people?

Now when I say "blessing," I don't necessarily mean anything religious. I'm not a religious person at all. You've probably guessed that already. I just mean wishing others well. If you want to think of it as asking God for it, or directing some kind of cosmic energy, or using "mind power" or simply wishing it or intending it (and perhaps imagining or believing that your intentions have a magical effect on reality), the effect on your own body would probably the same no matter how you did it.

I've been trying out this idea, and it has some very good effects. I haven't ascended yet, but I'm working on it.

Last night a friend of mine really got on my back. We were working on a project together, but she was all over me, overseeing me and questioning me to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything or to make sure I was doing it right, and she was very intense about it.

When I got up this morning, I thought about last night and I was mad at her. And resentful. But I tried this method — I made a wish that she find happiness in her life — and immediately it changed my feelings toward her. It changed the way I saw her behavior last night.

To wish her well, I had to shift myself to a different point of view and from the new perspective, it was clear to me she meant well and that reminded me that she's a decent, kind person who has been very good to me.

It is as if the act of blessing her disengaged me or unhooked me from my self-righteousness, and I became more of the kind of person I want to be. My emphasis here is in how wishing someone well impacts the well-wisher. But it might influence the other person too. Read more about that here.

I invite you to try it. Give a silent prayer of good wishes — happiness, well-being, peace — for someone. This is good for you and it might be good for them too.

Sometimes praying for others' well-being feels like a job and you just don't feel like it. When that's the case, wish yourself well. You probably need it.

Read more...

Subscribe

Subscribe to the Moodraiser newsletter, delivered free to your inbox. Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Moodraiser Archive

Feel good more often and become more effective with your actions. Check it out on Amazon: Self-Help Stuff That Works.

  © Free Blogger Templates Wild Birds by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP