So What’s the point, you ask? What can I do about it?
- Don’t buy in! Don’t listen. Reduce your exposure to a runaway stream of information. Don’t just rock along in auto pilot. Think about what you’re doing.
- Any information going through your mind that isn’t relevant to your life merely causes mental clutter which causes stress. If you’re stressed, chances are you have this problem.
- Turn off the news! You don’t need to know every detail of what is going on in the world. I have found that not following the news has greatly reduced the stress in my life. Yes, it is sad when a child drowns half a continent away, but unless I know the child or his family or unless it is reasonable to think the same will happen to my child, why do I need to know? It is just a cause for needless stress. It is important to be informed before you vote, but you can easily do some intentional research about the candidates shortly before an election rather than follow the daily barrage of news coverage.
"What if something happens that I really need to know about?" You will always know people who will tell you things you absolutely need to know. On September 11th, my brother in law called to tell me to watch the news. Keep in contact with your neighbors. If something happens in your neighborhood, they will tell you. Then, if you want to know the details, go to the most reliable source of news you can find and seek out only that story.
- Don’t watch so much television. This is important especially if you watch a lot of high stress television. Police crime dramas, abrasive TV talk shows and "He Said, She Said" reality shows will raise your stress levels. Too much of any kind of television time bleeds away hours of your life that you may later wish you still had.
- When you feel the urge to buy something, stop and ask yourself if you’re being brainwashed or if you really need that thing you want to buy. Chances are if you have to have it RIGHT NOW, it’s an impulse buy. Put it off for a while. Weigh the value. I have found that if I delay a purchase, I almost always realize that I don’t need or really want it.
- When someone tells you something that seems important, don’t just believe it, especially if the information causes you anxiety or has some impact on your belief system in general. If it is important, verify the information with a reliable source. I wish I had done this more in college, when I for a time believed unquestioningly the lies that some professors told me, even while they encouraged me to challenge beliefs for which I actually had solid evidence.
- Don’t "surf" the Internet because you’re bored. When you go to the Internet, make sure you have a purpose: You want information on a particular topic or you want to play a game or buy a song that gives you encouragement. If you just surf, though, you are just finding information to clutter your brain which will compound your stress.
- When too much information causes stress, it is expensive. Stressed people usually smoke, eat too much, develop various addictions or simply seek medical attention that they may not have otherwise needed. All these things cost money that stress free people don’t feel compelled to spend.
- When too much information causes stress, it adversely affects your health. Spending the majority of your time under a high degree of stress leads to all kinds of medical problems that make life unpleasant and will probably lead to an early death.
Is it really that important to be "plugged in"?
Update: Reader Question – Why are there ads on this site?
Originally, this story ended here, but we received a couple messages from readers who found it strange that there would be ads in a story that speaks to the down side of advertising. We wondered before we published it if the story would generate some letters to this effect. Here is a little clarification for those of you who wondered:
Advertising itself is not "bad". Advertising does serve to inform consumers who may be interested in purchasing a particular product that the product is available. That is why I said that you need to consider the value of something before you buy it. Is this something that is really going to make your life easier, save you money, or give you some real enjoyment in life? The point is that you have to be careful that you don’t let advertising direct your every decision in life.
If people have information to share, whether it is news, information about products or simply an idea they’re trying to promote, it is perfectly OK for them to try to get that information to the public.
People need to make money in their businesses. Advertising is a good way for them to do that. It is unrealistic to think that a company will be able to provide things for "free" if there is no way for them to get paid for the time and resources required to do the work. Not many of us would devote a significant portion of each day working hard for free when there are bills to pay.
It is self destructive for you to purchase things that you don’t need with money that you don’t have. When you purchase something out of fear, envy, anxiety or anger, you’re not buying it because you need it. It won’t solve your emotional problem. It will just make things worse by increasing your debt and cluttering your life with things you don’t need.
The next time you think about buying an item, ask yourself, "Do I really need this? Will this item really improve my life?"
Now… If you’d really like something to help you change your life , may I suggest a great cookbook? ;-)
A reader’s response to this story:
"Hi! Just a note, where I live (Folsom, CA) the Albertsons grocery store installed TELEVISIONS at the check out line that was streaming advertising disguised as helpful information, but selling groceries! It never ends!" Lisa M
From: Dig Out Of Debt