We’ve all heard the saying.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
- Jim Rohn
So whoever your mates are, how they behave, think, act, and what their interests are. Well, you are likely to turn out quite similar.
News — TV, online, newspaper, apps, etc.
Was one of these five mates I spent a great deal of my time with.
I probably spent more time with my mate Mr. News than the other four people that would complete my list.
Let me give you some perspective.
Little over THREE years ago, my morning routine went something like this…
- Wake up, while still in bed, scroll through news.com.au as my way of stimulating my brain out of zombie mode,
- Get ready with Sunrise in the background (the TV show, not a physical sunrise, I didn’t ever get up THAT early),
- Pack my Clif “breakfast” bar that had squeezed its way into becoming my staple morning meal. Well, because you know, I was just so incredibly “busy” that I didn’t have time for anything that involved sitting down for >4 seconds,
- Catch public transport, and digest as much news during the commute via my Smartphone, and,
- Sit down at my office desk and work my way through the other news categories and videos that I missed or hadn’t had a chance to get to. Before finally…getting to doing some actual work.
By now it was 10:00am, or slightly later.
BUT this was okay, because I thought…
“Hey, I am so great, I spend my time learning instead of wasting it on social media like the rest of the world”,
“Look at me, I always know what’s happening out there, I am on the front-line keeping up to date, unlike the rest of the world.”
*Pat on the back for me*
It was anything but. Off the high horse.
As we now know that the adult brain is Neuroplastic — meaning our brain quite literally changes its structure and functions as a result of our experiences, environments and behaviours.
So, what I was doing was unknowingly restructuring my mind to expect negativity and fear in the world.
Because that is what News does. You’re given glasses fitted with a “negative-filter” lens and are lead to see the world through them.
And what you see is
some cute puppies.
And if you see this often enough. Well. It becomes normal?
It becomes your view of the world.
Here’s an analogy that made me realize this
Imagine having a friend Debbie Downer whom you catch the bus with every morning.
When you see her, all she talks to you about is:
- a local person who recently got murdered,
- how politician 1 is correct about his stand on the “noonecares” policy and how politician 2 is stupid and incorrect because he said A B C,
- some crazy act a mentally unstable person committed,
- a bombing that just happened overseas that killed X number of people,
- some unpreventable natural disaster that could wreck havoc any minute and cause widespread damage,
- how the drug epidemic is out of control…and our kids may be next,
- how a celebrity wore a terrible outfit to an awards ceremony — and how you better not look like that,
- AND wraps up the conversation with — a story about a lost kitten that was found by a three-legged man bouncing on a pogo stick with a chicken on his shoulder in outback Australia.
I’m assuming you’d find Debbie highly repulsive? Borderline deranged.
And, most likely, extremely irritating.
Always unleashing negative, over-hyped sensationalist drama, and highly curated info to shock you into attention.
Spending too much time with her, and you’d start to see the world like her.
A world filled with little optimism, joy and positivity.
So when I objectively looked at News, and the conversations it was having with me as a person
— that person would be Debbie.
Well then. It was probably in my best interest to catch a different bus and avoid her completely?
So. I did.
Three years ago.
I cut listening to, watching, and/or reading any mainstream news.
You may think I’m being over-dramatic and exaggerating and news isn’t really THAT bad.
So, here’s a screenshot I just took of the breaking news from Perthnow.com.au
^ does the above sound positive?
^ does any of it add value to your life?
^ in fact, if the above were the stories your mate was telling you, will it fill you with optimism and joy? or fear and panic?
Would it really benefit you to associate with this person day in day out?
News is highly selected snippets of information that are designed to capture your limited attention.
We must understand that Media is a business.
And as a business, to make money you have to do what gets you the audience.
Positivity doesn’t have the same eyeball grabbing effect that tragedy or fear does. Negativity wins.
Hence, consuming any amount of news challenges our desire to be optimistic, positive, and creative. It instead, instills fear.
And fear is the enemy of creativity.
“The most important decision a man will ever make is whether he lives in a friendly universe.”
— Albert Einstein
So…3 years of no news.
What have I learnt?
It seems that when I stopped being constantly reminded about all the negative stuff going on in our world, I felt better about life.
I don’t automatically conjure up the absolute worst viewpoint in every situation.
I seek positivity even in tough situations.
I feel calmer, clearer, lighter (not as much information load), and have much more mental energy to dedicate to other crucial tasks.
I can now be the guardian of the information that enters my mind. I control my mental programming, and don’t leave it to the press.
Because the world of murder, chaos, and kittens no longer consume me.
I’ll digress here for a second…
Because there are two questions in the back of your mind bothering you about giving up news, and ones that bothered me, so let’s put them out there:
- Missing Out
“What if something of note or importance has happened out there in the world that I need to know about”
Well if something has happened that I NEED to know about — my friends, colleagues, and contacts would share it with me or discuss it so that it gets to me anyway.
And if they don’t, well guess it wasn’t that important after all?
It works as a very strong filter where only the absolute most important information will reach you. The rest you are no longer bombarded with.
2. Filling The Void
“What do I do when I just want to browse, or am commuting, or before I start work? How do I expand my general knowledge without the News?”
Sounds like quite a stupid question to me now,
But this was a big worry whilst I was in the grips of the need to constantly consume News.
With the ridiculously easy access to information we have right now. It is easy to get lost and just follow where the wind (media) takes us. However, on the flip side we have the ability to tailor what we want to watch, listen or read.
We can be as selective as we like about the information we surround ourselves with. And we can do it very easily.
IF this is going to be one of those 5 friends that you turn out to be like...
You should select a “friend” that’ll help you grow:
- Subscribing to blogs or Pulse can deliver only SPECIFIC useful information, eliminate the noise,
- Watching TedTalks, listening to Podcasts about your interests and goals,
- Following those on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, etc. that present positivity, optimism and ideas to fuel growth.
- Joining Pinterest and checking out boards that foster more creativity.
To put it all together, I want to leave you with a STORY.
As our business was in its growth trajectory, we were looking to hire a talented sales consultant. One who really had a desire to make a difference.
We were down to two seemingly brilliant candidates.
So, they were both hired for a one-day trial. In this trial each was given a list of potential clients they needed to contact and show how well they could develop a relationship
(they didn’t know they were both given the same list).
Furthermore, they didn’t know that the list of clients they were given weren’t real clients.
They were people we had recruited to play a specific role. Which was to be blunt, show no interest what so ever, be frustrated, and in a mad rush.
I had a debriefing with each consultant individually after this trial.
“That went really bad”.
“Everyone is rude, miserable, and just too difficult to convince. No one needs our help or wants what we have to offer!” the first consultant told me.
The second one was the complete opposite. He said, “That went amazing! It was such a good challenge. I learnt more in that one day on objections and developing relationships than I have in any other role, it was really exciting!”
Those who wish to sing always find a song.
— Swedish proverb
Life is very little what happens to us, and mostly just how we respond.
And if we let our response be guided by Debbie Downer, it is likely to be one of ill-treatment, hostility, and fear.
If we throw away the “negative-filter” glasses, however, we may find that we start to see opportunities at every turn.
If you believe the world is a positive place, it is likely to be one.
Information is quite likely to be one of your closest friends in today’s world — shouldn’t we be as selective as we are with our physical friends?
Now back to you Tina for the weather update.
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My story in 5 lines —
Studied to become an Engineer (did a 5.5 year double degree), but instead quit to start a record label, write a movie script, and tour the world as an MC and performer. With no money left, co-founded now the largest AV provider to education in WA — growing it 100% year on year. Working on our next venture with aspirations to help people connect face to face in a way social media can’t.