by Gail Z. Martin
There’s an old story about a Native American grandfather who tells his grandson about the two wolves that live inside of every person. One is a light wolf that is brave and true, and the other is a dark wolf that is dangerous and can’t be trusted. The child asks, “Which wolf wins?” And the grandfather answers, “The one you feed.”
With all the talk lately about civility (and lack thereof), I got thinking about the wolves we choose to feed. I’ll make a confession—I stopped watching TV news regularly about 18 years ago. Now that’s an odd admission from someone in the marketing and PR business, but the reason is, I realized how negative and sensationalized TV news had become since the days of Walter Cronkite and Huntley & Brinkley.
Sure, I’ll tune in for the main points of a big story, but I won’t leave it on. Why? I don’t want to hear all the breathless speculation (from people who don’t know more than I do on a breaking story). Have you ever noticed how the speculation becomes more and more dire, and then moves from true speculation into “experts” predicting the worst? And how do you feel while you’re watching that? Tense? Angry? Frightened?
It took a toddler to make me realize how toxic TV news had become. Once my daughter was old enough to really pay attention to conversations, she would hear enough scary stuff on the news to burst into tears. I turned it off to avoid scaring her—and realized that I didn’t miss it, either.
Now I’m still a news junkie. I read five newspapers online each day and subscribe to about 15 monthly magazines (and read them). But the amazing thing is, when I read the news, I decide which stories deserve breathless coverage. I’m not being manipulated by the fake emotions of the newscaster. I remain much more calm, even when I’m reading about something bad. I fed the light wolf instead of the dark one.
So here’s a challenge. Try swapping the TV news for an online newspaper or news journal magazine for one month and see if you feel calmer. If you can’t switch off the TV completely, mute the news and turn on the subtitles. Try it, and I guarantee you’ll start to feel less stressed, less angry and less at the mercy of the universe.
Let me know how it works for you!