“You can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen.”– Kody Keplinger
I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.
I’ve been talking to my 13-year-old daughter about her media consumption and the importance of a “balanced diet”. In our conversations, this spans which book she’s reading (for pleasure or school), social media, and the news. She is a very curious person and in today’s age she is being exposed to a lot of ideas and information that provoke emotion. In a positive way, her ability to consume content vastly exceeds what I experienced growing up. The challenge at her age: she doesn’t have the life experience to put all of these ideas in context.
She recently finished 1984 by Orwell – she really likes dystopian novels. I was pleased that her big takeaway was that language can be used to control people. We spoke a lot about how language and the presentation of information, “truthful and untruthful,” is often designed to provoke an emotional response that sells more newspapers, encourages people to watch more political news… in a social media context, leads you to believe someone is living an unrealistic but idealized lifestyle that somehow, you’re supposed to aspire to achieve. The list of unhealthy and unintended consequences of unfettered access to content is too long to be listed in this DOB. In the end, I’ve been trying to help her make conscious choices about what content she chooses to consume and to be aware of how it affects her emotionally. On a lighter note, I’ve been pushing romantic novels and coming of age stories… just trying to “round out her diet” we’ll see how that goes.
Rather than read the newspaper or watch the news and be unnecessarily frightened about Covid, I have two close friends that are MD PHD types who work in the public health space; I read the technical papers they recommend, and I get most of my Covid information from them. When I run into a question about the best way to interpret statistical modeling, they are my go-to source for validation. I do not get my information from the news. I asked my daughter to stop reading articles about Covid and especially the Omicron variant because it is/was frightening her and stressing her out. We agreed that I’d provide her current, factually based updates whenever she has questions and that I’d teach her how statistical modeling works, so we can read the papers together.
I would like to make a similar point to each of you. Should you be worried about Omicron, Politics, Supreme Court Cases, Inflation, Social Justice, Increasing Crime Rates or how many followers you have on Instagram? Most of these concerns are out of your control and while you’ll make choices about how you spend your time; I’d submit to you that worrying about things that are largely out of your control is a waste of your most precious asset – your time and attention!
The last 18 months has been trying for all of us. Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) are contagious and one of the worst things about stress is that it can become addictive. You just move from one problem or one worry to the next and you never have a moment to reset and remember what matters most. The current content and media climate is feeding helpings of FUD at us constantly. You have people in your life to love, goals to achieve, things to learn, and many things in your life that will inspire your gratitude. Don’t let yourself be exposed to an unbalanced diet of content. Find the time to be at peace, focus on your breathing, and center yourself. “Life is a marathon not a sprint” as my old boss at Microsoft always tells me. Take the time to take care of yourself and the people you love.
There is a great book called The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson, I highly recommend this book as a primer for the holidays and how you should consider spending your time and attention. If you’d like a copy, please send a note to Harrison.
Let’s go be great!