Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

Every so often I become a current events junkie. This happens particularly during election campaigns. When we are electing a president, I feel the need to be on top of the news at all times. It doesn’t help that we now live in a world in which the news is available 24/7. Every five minutes, I have to fight the urge to check CNN.

The problem with trying to stay abreast of every breaking news story is that it isn’t a good use of our time. Yes, we need to be aware that the Middle East is a terrible mess, and that people are suffering. But the point of that knowledge is to use it to inform how we vote (and to gain a better idea of where we need to charitably donate). But beyond that, we really don’t need to be current events experts, unless somehow that has something to do with our jobs (or, I suppose if current events is one’s hobby).

Let’s make this discussion even more personal. How much do we need to know about our friends and families? Do we need we need to know all the intimate details of their lives? Do I need to know every last thing that is going on in the lives of my husband and daughter? Probably not. Of course, I’m interested in them and love spending time with them. And I enjoy taking care of them. But for the most part, I don’t need to know everything.

The problem with paying too much attention to the news and to everyone else around us is that it is a distraction from the time that we should spend thinking about ourselves. That sounds selfish, but it isn’t. Let’s face it. Focusing on others is a way that many of us avoid facing our own issues. For instance, I might fret about how my daughter procrastinated on a school project, when I have a huge To Do List that I haven’t gotten to. Likewise, I may think my friend (or a politician) has a bad attitude, when my own attitude needs serious adjustment. The problem is that analyzing how everyone else could be doing better distracts us from the work that we need to do on ourselves.

My suggestion is that we give our mental energy to what is actually our business – ourselves. You are the one person in this world over whom you have control. Investing time in improving yourself will yield far greater dividends than determining how your neighbor could be a better person. If we pay more attention to how we conduct ourselves, we can improve how we treat others. We can become better role models for our children and more pleasant family members. And perhaps we can ensure that our presence on this earth actually makes the world a better place. And that is time well-spent.

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