[originally published February 13, 2008]

Generally speaking, I stay away from the ugliest news. I get my headlines from the internet and the newspaper, then I read the “good” ones. You know, good articles like the fire fighter who caught the baby that was thrown from the burning building. Anything that sounds like somebody is helping someone or there’s a happy ending.

Sure, I admit it. Just like you, I get sucked in sometimes by a train wreck, like the horrible storms that battered the Midwest in February, 2008. But there are good stories in those too sometimes. Like the baby who was thrown 300 feet by a tornado and barely had a scratch on him. Isn’t that good news?

The point is that there is plenty of crappy stuff to look at, read, and listen to, so I try to stay away from it as much as I can. This behavior suits my “happy at all costs!” model. Like I always say, if you’re not at least trying to be happy, then you’re not doing it right.

If you think that there is only bad news to be had, think again. The reason something is newsworthy is that it’s different from the norm. Do you think the anchors on the nightly news are going to go on camera, smile, and say, “Today, everything was really peaceful, and everyone is happy”? Certainly not. But the majority of what goes on each day is just your regular old life. A bank robbery or a school shooting is out-of-the-ordinary.

I recently listened to a CD by Christiane Northrup, M.D. She cited a study that concluded that the simple act of watching someone do good works boosts the immune system. Just watching Mother Theresa in action makes you healthier! Can you imagine? Why aren’t we all watching Mother Theresa films or hanging out at the Salvation Army?

And what does that tell you about watching the bad and the ugly? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

There is one good thing I can think of about hearing or watching less-than-pleasant news. Our ability to shine light and energy on those who need it. By actively thinking encouragement and sending energy to a situation, we have the power to change it, or at least to improve it.

For example, if you see a story on the news about a kidnapping, you can focus your thought on the victim and his/her family, wishing them peace and love. Oh, sure this sounds like hippie-dippy, flower-power, woo-woo stuff, but you know it works.

Try it soon. Choose a news story and see what kind of change you can effect simply by focusing your thoughts and energy. The rest of the instructions include staying present and positive. Leave out words like won’t, will, can’t, don’t, etc. In the example of the kidnapping, I might beam out thoughts like, “This family is at peace. The child is with her family. Love rests on all of them.” Nothing brings happiness like “present and positive.”

In the meantime, keep an eye on what you’re seeing. Good news, bad news, fun stuff? You get to choose. Don’t worry that if you’re not watching, you’re missing out or you’re somehow not contributing enough to the worry. All that worry ain’t gonna cut it. It’s the positive thought and energy that will bring about improvement.

Just think, if we can get 80% of people bouncing their positive thoughts around the world, what kind of world could we live in? Maybe the news anchors WOULD smile and say, “Today, everyone is happy!”