I watch the financial squawkers on TV while I’m sweating on the treadmill in the morning, but the relentless chirping about recession and doom is getting me down, which is not useful in my real life.
I get no relief from NPR on the radio when I drive to work. The commentators are continually alluding to the “terrible” economy. Then, when I reach the factory I turn on my iPad to check Yahoo! Finance and peruse the Wall Street Journal online. Another dose of pessimism. Then I say hello to certain coworkers, who repeat some of the bad news I’ve already heard.
What a ridiculous way to start a work day where people rely on me to make good things happen.
The media world is in a foul mood these days. But I choose not to be. It’s a waste of my energy and highly counterproductive in my personal and professional life. So how do I counteract a sullen, anxious, pissed off world that wants me to join its negativity?
My first defense is to look back to my heart situation three years ago – August 28, 2008 when the doctors at St. Francis Hospital told my wife I had a 20% chance of survival if they could not get a stent in the key artery feeding my heart, which was almost completely blocked.
Fortunately, Dr. Mohammed Akbar was working that day in the hospital and he had the guts and skill to succeed in the difficult procedure, which enabled me to get strong enough for the quadruple bypass surgery I required. I think about that event everyday. I realize that every day is a gift, so why wallow in negativity?
My second layer of defense against the grouchy pessimists is taking 15 minutes every morning for prayer and meditation. As part of my ritual I read a section recounting one person’s recitation of gratitude. After reading it I silently recount some of the things I’m especially grateful for, then I always put in a thank you for the ability to breathe.
My last line of defense against the fear-mongers is to connect with my wife Risa and son Noah. A touch, a kiss, a chat, a smile, reassure me that there is joy to be a part of. As I write this I know I will come off as a corny romantic Pollyanna, but I am who I am.
I feel like I have a choice most days, whether to be happy and confident or grumpy and pessimistic. I choose happy about 80% of the time, but I admit it is not always easy to do in a pissed off world. I think it takes effort and a plan to stay up when so many are down. It is easy to slide into the pervasive quicksand of depression around us.
Question: What annoys you the most in the media?
Saturday Night Live skit with “Debbie Downer” and Steve Carrell.