So, you poison yourself every day!

Answer these questions to yourself, honestly.

  • Do you start each day by flipping through the newspaper?
  • Do you regularly watch boisterous television debates or revel in soaps or worse still, get emotionally involved in woeful news casts on television?
  • Have you ever felt or thought about the impact of media exposure on your emotional well-being?
  • Has the media exposure ever made you feel happy and inspired? OR has the media exposure always left you sad, resentful, helpless, hopeless, angry, disturbed and stressed?
  • Do you believe that the news and other media content that you consume, are relevant to your life? Will they help you accomplish your dreams and goals? OR do you feel that you have wasted your time (and hence, life) by thoughtlessly squandering it on media?
  • If ever, you have felt that certain news and television shows were useful and relevant, do you feel that you got the complete truth? OR do you feel you were left confused, misled and vague?
  • Afer consuming the media content, did you acquire a fresh perspective about certain stuff OR do you feel that your old biases and beliefs have got reinforced and vindicated?
  • Has the newspaper and television exposure, left you scatter-brained and unable to concentrate on any other task that you ought to be doing in order to achieve your dreams?
  • After so much of media, do you already feel an urge for watching some other TV channel OR for surfing some other gossip on the web OR for flipping through the pages of some other newspaper? Are you feeling addicted?

Despite the diversity in nationality, language, religious faith, culture, education and social affluence, it is a surprising fact that almost all households are united in the habit of starting their day with newspapers and ending it (or rather finishing it) with television.

From childhood, I too was indoctrinated into the belief that I must develop the habit of reading newspapers everyday, in order to improve my general knowledge as well as language. Even today, my kids are being told in school that they must be reading and following news, regularly. When television came into my life, this belief got extended to the audio-visual media too. I started watching news hours regularly on the television. Gradually, this habit extended to other television programs, which provided fodder to my senses, while numbing my thinking faculty.

Not long ago, when I threw my job away and embarked on my own entrepreneurial journey, sanity started setting in. I had to suddenly take charge of my life, health, habits, projects, time and most importantly my daily routine. I listed out all the routine tasks that I did everyday and evaluated each of them for their relevance to my chosen goal. While many routine tasks, which I was mindlessly repeating, simply ate my time and stalled my progress towards my goal, I found, to my shock, that media exposure alone not only wasted my time but also affected me mentally, destroyed my focus, delayed my getting into the flow and eventually moved me away from my goals. Media exposure was in no way connected to my business or life.

One day, I did a fun exercise of listing down the salient news headlines from that day’s newspaper and categorized each news item as negative or positive. For example, a news item that reported a murder was ‘negative’, while a report that celebrated a paralympic gold medal victory was ‘positive’. I also did another categorization of the news, as either ‘relevant’ or ‘irrelevant’ to my life. Irrelevant news were those that meant nothing to me. I found, to my shock, that out of 30 headlines that I sampled, 27 were ‘negative’ and all the 30 were ‘irrelevant’. The news reports were making me angry, desperate and helpless, forcing me to waste further time and energy by ranting about them on the social media. These negative emotions sapped my days of their vitality, creativity and motivation.

I booted newspaper and television out of my life and rehashed my routine. I designed my days to help me start early, get into the flow fast and finish my day with some sense of peace and fulfillment.

Since then, I have spoken to many people to find out why they are into mindless media immersion. Many of them felt challenged, argued with me and even called me a fool to ask the reason behind such an ‘obvious virtue’ as reading newspapers or watching television. Some even thought I had failed to make it big in life, only because of not being ‘connected’ to the ‘happenings’.

Last week, I chanced upon a superbly written article by Benjamin P. Hardy – Tell Me What You Did Today, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are. In that eye-opener, Benjamin talks about defining our ideal day, staying motivated, stating and following implementation intentions and having a discipline of self-regulation.

But, if our ideal day is contaminated by media indulgence, then all our ‘implementation intentions’ are certain to get ruined. It is like designing a nutritious diet regimen but starting each meal with a cup of poison.

Did you drink your cup today?

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