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There’s More Right in the World Than You Might Think

Good News

“When you turn on the television … you run the risk of ingesting harmful things, such as violence, despair, or fear.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I passed the rack of newspapers on my way into story time at the library, ignoring the latest headlines. Murder, mayhem, war, disaster—it all calls like a siren at sea. My pace picks up as I turn the other direction.

My two-year old charge, whom I affectionately call Little Man P, is captivated by the animated librarian. She impresses me with her liveliness and ease in handling a room full of kiddos. It is clear she loves her work and those that come to story time.

After everyone else left, she lingered to talk with me and Little Man P. He’s shy and bashful, but loves attention. Since he insists in going out in his superman outfit, he certainly gets noticed.

I’ve enjoyed caregiving most for Little Man P because he has reminded me how to have fun and use my imagination.

There’s hardly a moment he isn’t asking me to tell him a story. He’s more interested in elephants that can climb trees and fire hydrants that can talk than he is in anything else. I tell the librarian how my imagination has come alive since I’ve been babysitting him.

With this comment, she seizes the opportunity to plug a special kids program coming up that weekend at the library. Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to be available to attend. I explained I would be spending a few nights staying with an elderly woman at risk of falling whose husband had to be out of town for a funeral.

I shared with her what I consider to be the greatest downside to working with the older end of the age spectrum. Many, if not all, of my clients are really into the news. I can pretty much count on a newspaper at the table and the television turned on.

Rather than participating in a fun and imaginative weekend program, Id be stuck listening to CNN running 24/7 in the background. I complained about this with my new librarian friend, commenting how difficult it is to hear all the bad news in the world.

She shook her head sympathetically and muttered an agreement. I went on to express my frustration with the news media for mainly reporting what’s wrong in the world. I asked her, “Don’t you think there are just as many good things going on in the world?”

She agreed, but then said: “Yes, but it seems things are getting worse every day.”

I felt the familiar flare of passion rise up when a topic really pushes one of my buttons.

I passionately exclaimed, “People only think that because that’s all they hear about on the news! Isn’t it just as likely there are an equal amount of miracles happening every day, or good Samaritans doing heroic deeds that we don’t hear about?”

I think my enthusiasm must have turned her off, as she made a rapid exit after my outburst. Our conversation, however, reminded me of why I have such a ban against reading or watching the news. My desire to know what’s right in the world instead was ignited.

Although not everyone agrees with the belief that we focus on is what we create, chances are if you’ve ever thought about buying a certain kind of car, you’ve experienced suddenly seeing that kind of car everywhere.

This phenomena is referred to as frequency illusion. Our minds sift out all the other data we are receiving and starts to see more of something we have just noticed or learned. It is amazing how we will begin seeing things previously unnoticed based on where our thoughts and focus are directed.

I’ll concede, simply watching or hearing about murder, terrorism, or the bad economy isn’t necessarily going to mean we see more of those things as we go about our day to day lives. However, it does increase the likelihood we start living a more fearful life.

As such, we might notice the unusual looking man at the grocery store. Then, when he pulls out behind us in the parking lot, we worry he is following us. Or perhaps we become suspicious of the neighbors who just moved next door because of their race or religious orientation.

Similar to “frequency illusion” is the experience of “selective attention.”

Numerous studies demonstrate when our attention is occupied with one thing, we often fail to notice other things right before our eyes. In one study, few people noticed a woman with an umbrella cross the field while they were counting how many times a football got passed from one player to another.

Likewise, if we are preoccupied with the strange looking man in aisle two of the grocery store, we might not notice the cashier pull money out of her own pocket to help the customer in front of us who didn’t have enough to pay for their groceries. Or see the young man help the elderly woman carry her groceries to the car.

Constant bombardment of all the horrible things happening in our world can only lead to greater and greater distress and mistrust.

What we need instead is more hope, faith, and love. In an information age where what happens on the other side of the world is known immediately everywhere, why does the media report mostly on what’s going wrong?

Imagine a primary news channel devoted predominately to the announcement of miracles or to reporting various good deeds.

What if we were constantly seeing pictures of people helping each other, babies being saved by the latest in modern medicine, or politicians shaking hands in agreement over important issues?

What if we were to hear stories about the rising inner peace movement, or new and innovative programs to assist the elderly, sick or disabled?

Is it possible we would all smile a bit broader and greet strangers with a warm hello?

Perhaps we would feel encouraged to do our own generous act of kindness or join an existing worthy cause.

Would not knowing about some of the things we hear about on the daily news make a huge difference to us in our day-to-day lives?

How can we possibly know if things are getting better or worse when we aren’t given even a 50/50 accounting?

Steven Pinker, in his 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, argues things actually are getting better. He asserts violence has been in decline, despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism.

We just can’t see it because no one is focused on what’s right it the world.

Since I’ve stopped watching the news and reading the paper, my life is happier and more fulfilling.

If there is something really important happening in the world, I will hear about it elsewhere. If there is some action I can take to make things better, I will do it. But most the time, I’m quite content to live in my bubble, smiling at people and extending kindness to strangers.

Good news image via Shutterstock

About Shannon Crane

Shannon Crane is a writer and speaker passionate about sharing how one’s focus, feelings and perspective influence the quality of life. She has developed an eight-step process to changing focus, getting in touch with the body wisdom, and seeing things from a soul perspective. You can join her Facebook community or connect with her at www.yourlifeperspective.com.

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  • Tina.L.G.

    Such a coincidence!! This morning I was thinking about why this world is full of bad news, almost everyday we hear news about war, terrorism, illegal immigrants, so on and so forth. I know there’re many bad things happening all over the world, but isn’t there something good happening, like at all? I don’t believe it. Reporting on bad news is not wrong, the problem is it’s off balance right now on News, they only report bad news because it brings more audience, (to be frank, if there’re a bad news and a good one, I probably watch or read the bad one first,) but we do need good news, and they are excisting, then where are all the reporters gone?? Can’t we have some balance?? Don’t they see it’ll only making our daily life harder and tougher to live if we are not aware of that good things are happening, there’re people caring for each other, helping each other? So, YES, we do have good news and pls start telling us more about that!!

  • There’s another important way in which watching a lot of TV can destroy happiness.

    It’s tempting to settle down with a bowl of sweet snacks. That brings a temporary kick, but it tends to expand the waistline.

    So there’s a multiple whammy from watching too much TV:

    1. You get to see everything that’s going wrong in the world, and little that’s going right.

    2. All your unfinished tasks keep piling up.

    3. You get to use the remote control, which keeps you sitting down for ages.

    4. Your waistline expands from all the sweet snacks, inviting diabetes and other diseases.

    5. You get to avoid interesting conversations with others.

    6. You get to avoid making a difference in the world, even as you are confronted with the need for your contribution.

    I think a healthy dose of awareness about the world’s wounds can prompt us to become healing presences. For some of us, those wounds are before our eyes: the lonely old woman next door who would love a visit, the great causes which evoke compassionate responses in our local groups, the distressed people who believe that they don’t matter to anyone etc.

    My guess is that you radiate compassion and encouragement to all those around you.

    Thank you for writing and spreading your light.

  • jessD

    Thank you for this article. This is something I have recently thought about. Lately, I have found myself in fear of almost anything. I have become somewhat paranoid and very protective of my children worrying that there are so many bad people out there.
    I noticed that as I drive and see someone standing in a “suspicious” way, I wonder if this person is up to no good. But I have realized that it is what is fed to us via the news and what’s reported everyday. We live in constant fear, not realizing there are many good people out there. We don’t realize that there are good deeds and good Samaritans happening probably everyday. So, as I drove into work this morning I had promised myself that I will no longer read, watch, or even hear the news. Just as you said, if there is something that I need to know, I am sure I will hear about it.
    In doing this, I hope to not worry so much and be kinder and happier.

  • jessD

    Thank you for this article. This is something I have recently thought about. Lately, I have found myself in fear of almost anything. I have become somewhat paranoid and very protective of my children worrying that there are so many bad people out there.
    I noticed that as I drive and see someone standing in a “suspicious” way, I wonder if this person is up to no good. But I have realized that it is what is fed to us via the news and what’s reported everyday. We live in constant fear, not realizing there are many good people out there. We don’t realize that there are good deeds and good Samaritans happening probably everyday. So, as I drove into work this morning I had promised myself that I will no longer read, watch, or even hear the news. Just as you said, if there is something that I need to know, I am sure I will hear about it.
    In doing this, I hope to not worry so much and be kinder and happier.

  • Jess, you are a testament to exactly why I wrote this article! In the times to come we will have a lot coming at is that is fear based and those of us raising our consciousness on this planet will have to really be careful not to get caught up in it. I will be interested in hearing how you feel after a week without watching or reading the news!! Look for what’s good around yu and focus on that instead and watch the magic unfold! 🙂

  • The more I think about this topic, the more important I believe it is for the future and how we are being led to more and more fear through our media outlets. Please consider posting this article on your Facebook and/or Twitter account. The more we can turn attention to the good things happening in the world, the more we contribute to a better world! Thanks!

  • Thanks, Joel – I replied to this earlier but I think I wasn’t logged in. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I am sure you are also radiating compassion and encouragement and glad you are shining your light in the world! 😉

  • I responded to this earlier but wasn’t logged in so think it got lost … Thanks for your comment! Exactly my point! I’d really love to see a news station that does AT LEAST 50/50 good news but I’d also love to see one that just reports on all the good stuff! 😉 Keep shining your light in the world!

  • Peace Within

    Thank you for sharing Shannon. I agree with you. I believe the news is depressing and negative. No light is shed on all of the positive things going on around us. That’s because it is what the people want to see. I have no idea why but people are attracted to negative things. I also believe the news channels get more money or ratings when more people are tuning in. I also believe that what they may portray isn’t always true, it’s bias. For example, the way mental disorders are portrayed. The way mental disorders are explained or shown through the news aren’t how they actually are. Instead of opening peoples eyes on the ways that we can prevent things from happening we are taught to be fearful and what not. I rarely watch the news and it’s not because I don’t care. If I want to make changes I can within my own community. I also no longer use social networks. I am a million times happier.

  • Marc

    Dear Shannon,
    Thank you very much for writing this. The topic is ALWAYS on my mind, but simultaneously, I think what you think: “Surely there HAS to be good in the world… but if I don’t hear about it, I think that all that exists is just what I HEAR and SEE….” All else feels like fiction, and I don’t want it to be so…

    This is why I make it a point to visit TinyBuddha occasionally (not ALL the time…I may not want an unrealistic, rose-tinted version of the world, but I do need much more positive stuff these days) and even a wonderful site called Good News Network ( goodnewsnetwork.org, surely mentioned in one of the below comments). Oddly enough, when I read those heroic stories, I primarily feel inadequate and ashamed for not doing such miracles myself… but then I too easily forget the love and friends I have in my life, and the “little miracles” I do for them (as they remind me). It’s still a bit tough to “take the positive” when I feel intoxicated by all the negative, but I AM happy that such things simply EXIST (think of how truly horrible it would be if they didn’t!).

    Anyways, thank you so much for the warm, wonderful reminder. I am always in need of it and hopefully can reach the point where I remind MYSELF of the greatness in the world and how much more important and valuable it is than all that ugly fear… Thank you, Shannon. <3
    Love and light, always,
    Marc

  • Marc

    I totally agree with you. Except for one small community-related network that I occasionally check (more art-related than anything else), I’m done with social networks due to the overwhelming news and information that just floods my head… And it saddens me that “negative things are attractive”. Sure, we cannot be expected to be happy all the time, and bad things must exist for the good things to shine in contrast. But there still seems like an imbalance, don’t you think? The bias is most likely there, yes. 🙁
    I’m with you, Peace Within. I still get shivers and upset whenever I hear bad news through overheard conversation….but I want to be more open to the good news and joys of everyday living, to have things to look FORWARD to, not fear or dread. Such things inspire me to do good and be good.
    Lots of love and light, always. <3
    Marc

  • Marc

    I will share this with my loved ones for certain. And yes, I am so done with being afraid… I’m still of the opinion that FEAR is the root of all evil, not money. And I have been afraid for far too long, led by the media and others who dwell in that fear. 🙁 Thank you so much, Shannon. I am infinitely grateful! *warm loving hugs* <3

  • Susan Mary Malone

    Thank you so much for this, Shannon. Frequency Illusion is such a real phenomenon, and we are bombarded with constant bad news. But by focusing on the good, the just, the things that make us better people and the world a better place, that expands in our consciousness as well.
    So why not focus on what’s going right?
    Because we know that even by witnessing a positive event, the serotonin levels in our brains rise. Nature’s prozac 🙂
    Very timely post!

  • Laura Brodbeck

    To quote one of my favorite songs by Paul Simon, “I get all the news I need from the weather report.” 🙂

    Anyone who doubts the potential broad appeal of a “good news station” has obviously never noticed the popularity of cute cat photos on the internet or witnessed how a two-minute video of a baby laughing can be seen by ten of millions of people. I think a lot of the positive stuff that “goes viral” is proof that people are looking for an antidote to all the bad news and negativity.

  • Thank you, Marc! Hugs to you as well!!

  • Thanks, Laura – so true!! 🙂 Now to find a way to make a good news only station that also integrates humor so it will go viral!! LoL. Sending love and light!

  • Thanks so much for your comment!! As I said, I think in the days to come there will be more and more bad news and it will be important for us to choose love and not fear and remember that all is well! 🙂 <3

  • Thank you again! Shine on, Marc!! 🙂

  • Thanks for the link and talk, Camilla! I will listen to it tonight! 🙂 I agree being informed about important issues is important – the way we are informed, however could use some tweaking! 🙂 (( hugs ))

  • Lauren Rubenstein

    I completely agree that the media focuses on the negative therefore we are also drawn to the negative, and it can easily become our world. This makes me wonder why it seems so much easier to focus on the negative versus the positive . Thank you for bringing an awareness to our patterns of negative thinking. Perhaps it’s enough to break that pattern for people reading your article.

    I have read some of your other writing and find it very thought provoking. It brings a fresh and positive perspective to the reader. Thank you so much for that.

  • Mann

    Thanks for sharing this article

  • Thank you for your comment, Mann! 🙂 This is certainly a topic I feel strongly about and am happy to see it so well received. Keep on sharing the good news! xo

  • So true! I hadn’t watched news in maybe over a decade when I started doing caregiving for elders. One night I was with a man watching the news and I literally got sick. The fear and doom was almost palpable. It’s hard not to get caught up in it and I really have to work hard to stay grounded in my trust that all is well! Thanks for your comment and support!

  • Thanks, Lauren! The Tiny Buddha site is so awesome in providing a place for those of us sharing light and love and I’m so happy you are a part of it! <3

  • Great article! That’s why I love Upworthy! Grit magazine and Reader’s Digest used to focused on the positive as well, but they have become polluted with mainstream news now too. I always love Steve Hartman on CBS Sunday morning news. He finds positive, uplifting, inspirational and encouraging stories to feature. Even Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is a nice refuge for some inspiration and positivity. 🙂

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  • Shelley

    Great article! Thank you!

  • Thanks, Shelley! I love focusing on what’s right in the world! 🙂

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  • freedomstartswithin

    Great article, I totally believe that if we all focused on what was right, there would be a lot less wrong. By looking on the positive side it also helps us to react/act in a more positive way when things do go wrong. Someone once said to me ‘i’m sick of you positive people you act like nothing goes wrong, but in the real world things do. ‘ I said, it’s not that things don’t go wrong it’s that they can be approached and dealt with in a better way, that does not cause so much disharmony to ones happiness

  • Yes! Great response!! I feel like if there is something we can do about an issue: do it! If not, focusing on it only contributes to the problem!

  • freedomstartswithin

    Exactly Shannon! i do feel though that sometimes we need tools to help us not focus on the issue, like you said not reading the papers or watching the news is definitely a good way to be. 🙂

  • Thanks! I know it’s been a huge improvement in my life! <3

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