The Stories Around You

You have a say in what does & doesn’t affect your life

I don’t have to be convinced that every day is overloaded with information. It might be from a friend or family member, it might be in the daily news scan, or quite commonly, from social media. Stories of tragedy and betrayal, scandal and treachery, or the rare stories of courage and hope, sacrifice and mercy fill up the influx of content. If I spent enough time each day, I might find every kind of story possible.

Depending on which article is read, video watched or radio show listened to, my day will be affected by it. It will modify how I think and process for a while; it will alter emotions one way or another. I can’t tell what exactly what will be on the other side of that click, but I can always choose what to do with it, and how long to stay with it.

The endless stream of content

For most content, it’s not a big deal. But occasionally I’ll land a juicy opportunity for something more than a read or listen. I’ll stumble on something that will hook my emotions, evoke a response, and take more than a little mind-space while I process; it will set up shop until I kick it out. But despite the visceral power of this kind of content, it can only impact me if I let it — if I continue to engage with it. After all, I don’t have to read, or watch, or listen to all of it once I’ve started.

That’s obvious, right? It is, but what’s not, perhaps, quite-so-obvious is the tendency to never stop and ask myself if I should keep on with it. It being good or bad isn’t the key ingredient here. The key ingredient is recognizing whether or not I want to waste my energy on it. Because I could be investing it in C, B or A.

I have a limited amount of energy to put into each day. Knowing I can control where it goes is a powerful reality. Making sure it goes there by choice, and not by default, is an even greater one. When I find myself overwhelmed by what’s happening around me, the solution is often simple: ingest less of it until I’m ready to handle more.

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