How to stay informed about the world without going insane

informed

Lately I’ve been feeling like the world is moving impossibly fast.

Maybe that’s because, over the past few months, I’ve felt inspired to get more informed and involved in my local community, my country, and the world at large.

I used to pride myself on not watching the news. That kind of negativity didn’t have a place in my life, I reasoned.

But recently, that stopped feeling like a positive, self-protective measure and more like an excuse to stay in my bubble where “ignorance is bliss.”

As someone who values consciousness over almost anything else, I couldn’t continue rationalizing keeping myself in the dark.

And so, I’ve made a conscious effort to educate myself about national politics, global news, environmental policies, human and animal rights, and even my most local town leadership. I’ve chosen my news sources carefully and consciously, because it matters to me that I get the whole picture without the extreme biases and fear-tactics that are all-too-prevalent in some click-bait media sources.

{In case you were worried, this is NOT a political blog. I’ve never had an interest in writing about politics or pushing my agenda on anyone else, and I’m not about to start now.}

It’s been incredibly empowering to feel more informed than I’ve ever been before. I feel connected to my country and the world in a way I simply couldn’t when I was avoiding the news.

It’s also broken my heart many times over.

Being a particularly sensitive human who feels everything deeply, it’s often depressing to hear the truth of what’s happening in the world around me.

So that’s been my challenge lately: getting out of my bubble and staying informed without letting the heaviness of the news send me down into a negative spiral.

IF YOU’RE NOT GRIEVING FOR THE WORLD, YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION

In my attempts to become more informed about my country and the world, I’ve heard some truly terrible, heart-wrenching stories.

I’ve heard harrowing stories of refugees from North Korea and Syria who have experienced horrors and hardships that the vast majority of us can’t begin to comprehend.

I’ve read about the injustice of the gender pay gap and the extreme financial impacts it has on women’s choices and freedoms.

I’ve seen images and videos of the brutality of animal testing in medical and cosmetic research.

I’ve seen, like I’ve never seen before, the extreme division in my country after our recent election.

It’s enough to make anyone feel utterly helpless.

As Marianne Williamson so wisely said in her book Tears to Triumph:

“The gap between how beautiful life can be and the way it too often is is heartbreaking. Anyone who is not on some level grieving the state of the world is perhaps not looking very deeply.”

It’s perfectly appropriate to feel angry or depressed or powerless once you become informed. I’m realizing that it sometimes feels like too much to bear, and I’m tempted to go back to my days of not knowing.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when I want to pull a blanket over my head and not see the truth.

But it’s also clearer than ever to me that, unless I’m informed, I don’t get to make an impact either. I don’t get to share my voice, or contribute my time and resources, or stand up for what I believe in, or initiate positive change unless I’m paying close attention.

To quote two famous clichés back-to-back …

Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power.

WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE I STARTED PAYING ATTENTION

Now that I’m paying closer attention than ever before, I’m also feeling inspired and empowered to become part of the solution.

Here are just a few things I’m doing, now that I’m getting more informed:

  • “Voting” for what I believe in with my money. I’m more conscientious about which companies I purchase products from, and I look for transparent, eco-friendly, health-conscious, fair trade companies (like the one created by a previous coaching client that we emailed about last week, wearwell). I’m also looking into investing options based on my values, so that my investments aren’t supporting companies that are hurting people, animals, or the environment.
  • Getting more involved in politics, locally and nationally. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only ever voted in presidential elections. But no more! I’m now fully committed to voting in every single election, including my most local town officials.
  • Feeling more grateful for everything I have. When you’re living in a bubble without exposing yourself to what’s going on in the world, it’s much easier to get bogged down by daily annoyances. Without a greater perspective, “first-world problems” can feel like the end of the world. But ever since I’ve been paying more attention, I’ve been feeling much more grateful for every little thing in my life, from running water to my basic human freedom.
  • Sharing my voice, in the hopes that it will inspire others. I feel more strongly than ever that I want my business and this blog to bring more light into the world. The more each one of us pursues greater happiness for ourselves, the more we increase the positivity of the world. And that’s an agenda I can 100% get behind.

Even as I write these things, I feel inspired to get even more involved. I want to keep being a stronger force for good in the world. I deeply want to make more of a positive impact with my actions, my resources, and my voice.

And I have no doubt that I will.

The thing is, you can’t go backward in awareness. Once you open your eyes, you can’t go back to blissful ignorance. And that’s a powerful thing because it will continue to inspire greater action.

So I remind myself that I’ve already taken the most important step by opening my eyes and getting informed. This fire growing within me to bring more light into the world will only grow bigger over time, and so will my impact.

The best thing you can do for the world is open your eyes & your heart and ask, “How can I help?”

HOW TO STAY INFORMED WITHOUT GOING DOWN A NEGATIVE SPIRAL

The greatest challenge in staying informed is not allowing the heaviness of the news weigh you down and make you feel powerless.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to stay (mostly) positive and inspired as I’m paying closer attention to world events:

  • Choose your news sources carefully. Be discerning, get curious, and consult multiple sources with differing viewpoints so you get the big picture.
  • Allow yourself to react. You’re bound to have strong feelings about what you hear, so give yourself permission to fully feel and express your feelings. Cry, get angry, feel joy, or talk it out with someone.
  • Get involved. Nothing is too small! Start by asking yourself if your daily habits (what you’re “voting for” with your money, your time, your focus, etc.) align with your values.
  • Make sure you’re also paying attention to what’s going right in the world. For every heartbreaking news story out there, there’s also a heartwarming story, so seek out positive news, too! Also, notice small things in your day-to-day experience that are beautiful, positive, and inspiring. Pay attention to all of the good that’s already happening in the world.
  • Occasionally do a news detox. You can only handle so much — don’t overload yourself! Give yourself regular breaks from consuming information to periodically detox.

Do you struggle with this same challenge of staying informed while also staying positive? What suggestions do you have for keeping that balance? I’d love to hear, in the comments!

TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!

If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:

We’re now recording our blogs for you!

Here’s Kristen reading this week’s blog:

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When you feel guilty for wanting more than you have

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

11 Comments // ADD COMMENT

11 comments

  • Diana Tremblay

    This is so timely for me. I have been having this conversation with my friends because I feel living in a bubble can result in people making uneducated decisions. # 1 strategy for me is to wisely choose news sources with a world view – people need a broader perspective, one that might even challenge their own viewpoint

    Thanks for this – I will be sharing it

    • Kristen Walker

      Totally agree that the best decisions happen when you step out of your bubble and see other perspectives. I love that you’ve been having open conversations with your friends about this lately! Glad this was so timely for you, Diana.

  • Stacie Schmidt

    I am right there with you. Thank you for saying what we are feeling and not knowing how to put it into words.

    I would love to see the list of news sites that you visit on a daily basis to help determine you are getting open viewpoints!!

    Thanks,
    Stacie

    • Kristen Walker

      Glad to hear I’m not alone in feeling this way!

      As for the news sources I’ve been using to get more informed … I read The Skimm most days for a general overview and I listen to the podcast The Daily for a deeper dive into one or two issues each day. I also listen to Pod Save America and Pod Save the World for updates on national and world politics/news (these are definitely more liberal-leaning, since two of the creators were speechwriters for Obama, but they do a good job explaining things in a totally relatable & humorous way). I also like With Friends Like These, which is a podcast about awkward and real conversations with people from all backgrounds, viewpoints, political leanings, and cultures, which is really fascinating. There are others, of course, but those are my go-tos!

  • Adam Sickle

    Love the part about being more aware with your investments! Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact investing (SRI) is a massively growing area of the financial industry, and money talks! I work for a non-profit membership organization aimed at advancing sustainable, responsible and impact investing and we do a lot of research showing the latest trends of how more and more dollars are going towards this (1 out of every 5 professionally managed dollars). Shameless plug, but check us out to learn more!

    • Kristen Walker

      Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact investing — love that! It’s so great to hear that it’s such a hugely growing part of the financial world, too. That gives me hope, for sure! And thanks for sharing about your company. I love learning about resources like this that are doing good in the world, and I’m sure other people do, too! I’ll absolutely check it out.

  • Jason Nandu

    Great article, and I agree completely! The more you learn about the world out there, the more your realize how small your own world is. There is a lot of pain everywhere, but you can make a difference by being your absolute best, I guess. It feels good to make contributions–even commenting on this article feels good. I think commenting, replying, talking is definitely something you should do.
    I like to find something I’m interested in, and sort of let myself loose, typically on YouTube. That way, I learn a lot in one go, and I get both the good parts and the bad.

    • Kristen Walker

      You’re so right — making any kind of positive contribution, big or small, feels really great and makes an impact. I agree that, if you want to start creating change, the very best place to start is having conversations, sharing your thoughts and visions, and deeply listening to others. That’s how ideas spread and grow! Thanks for sharing your voice here, Jason.

  • Leslie McDaniel

    “The thing is, you can’t go backward in awareness. Once you open your eyes, you can’t go back to blissful ignorance.”

    So true! I’ve often said this because it makes the consequences of continuing to participate in something you know has a negative impact on people or the world crystal clear.

    Do you know about Branden Harvey’s Goodnewsletter? It focuses on the good happening in the world!

    • Kristen Walker

      Love that you feel the same way about this, Leslie! You definitely can’t make positive changes in the world (or even in your own life) until you’re first and foremost aware of what needs to change. So we’ve all got to start there!

      And no, I haven’t heard of the Goodnewsletter, but I’m signing up now! I LOVE the idea of balancing out so much negativity with something purely positive like this. What a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Kerry

    This was just what I needed to hear. One big problem for me is where does one find reliable balanced news? There is no such thing here in Australia. I would very much appreciate any suggestions