Dr Dale Peterson, news, habit, stress

Good News, Bad News

Good News, Bad News

© 2000 Dr. Dale Peterson; © 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Thomas Jefferson. There is no way of knowing whether or not he actually said it since in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century it was common to ascribe statements to historical figures for greater impact. Regardless of when and where it originated the message rings true. “I read less than one newspaper a month, but what I read convinces me that the only truth to be found therein lies in the advertising section.”

A major turning point in my life was my decision in February, 1997, to give up “The News.” Up to that point I had lived what I suspect is a fairly typical American life. I would begin the day by reading the newspaper as I ate breakfast. I would listen to the news on the radio as I drove to work and would hear various news items discussed on “talk radio” on the drive home. I would thumb through an occasional newsmagazine and would commonly end my day with the ten o’clock news on television.

I did all of this as a matter of habit without any consideration of how this might be affecting my mental and physical health. The news was simply a part of life, something that everyone read or listened to.

My initial motivation in making the change was to capture some time to do more productive things. The result was unexpected and astounding. Within a matter of days my outlook on life improved 1000 %. My ability to handle the everyday stresses of life increased dramatically. As time passed I became a happier, more pleasant, and healthier person.

I now include breaking the news habit as one of my rules for healthy living. When I speak to groups this recommendation almost always brings the most questions and the greatest reaction. “I need to be informed,” someone will protest. “How can I know what to prepare for if I don’t listen to the news?,” another will ask.

My response to these and other objections is that I can guarantee that anyone who gives up the news habit will be notified of any important development by someone who is still hooked on the media. The difference is that they will be spared the details and the analysis that inevitably accompanies most news items.

For example, I know that sexual impropriety occurred in the White House. I even know that it involved a young woman named Monica. I can’t give you the sordid details. I know that we went to war in Kosovo and I have a personal opinion about the morality of such a venture untainted by the views of newscasters. I even know that a catastrophe was expected as the clock ticked on to January 1, 2000, but that it did not materialize.

What does this have to do with Health By Design? Our body is not designed to function properly under a constant barrage of bad news. Since events that turn out well are seldom newsworthy the general tone of any newspaper edition or news broadcast promotes anxiety and depression. This not only affects one emotionally , it affects the body physically.

The book of Proverbs states, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” The medical literature is replete with examples of this. Diabetics who are sad have greater difficulty controlling their blood sugars. People who are depressed or have suffered a loss are more likely to develop cancer or suffer a heart attack.

The mechanisms by which this happens are beginning to be understood. We now know that when the mind is bombarded by negative input the body becomes more acidic. Acidic conditions predispose to cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and other degenerative conditions.

Sad thoughts drain the body’s energy, happy thoughts provide energy.

I am convinced that the single most important thing that the average individual can do to improve his or her general health is to break the news habit. This will be most effective if the time previously devoted to “The News” is filled with positive input. In place of the morning newspaper read an uplifting article or commentary. Instead of radio news programs listen to tapes by inspirational teachers or motivational speakers.

My challenge to you is to give up “The News” for 30 days. If you do not have a more positive attitude, if you do not feel better, if you do not believe that your future is brighter feel free to go back to your old routine. My belief, however, is that you will never want to subject yourself to the oppression of “The News” again.

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