Q: Noah, I feel inundated with news all day long. How can I tune out the drone and listen to only what's essential?
A: The news has become noise, massive chatter that's transmitted at lightning speed and nauseatingly repetitive. Every story is sold to the public as the most important event of our lifetime.
The implication: You must know everything!
Here are the tips:
1. The real news
Cable news hosts become neighbors: the grumpy old man, the hipster, the preacher, the straight-shooter. We start to think of them as friends. And then we are hooked, addicted to their specific chatter.
Generally, we like to stay within our comfort zones. We listen to the same channels, read the same papers, and buy into the words of like-minded "personal" blogger friends.
The problem is some rely on the news media as a life source. They become absorbed with information about the world and stop paying attention to what is going on in their real world.
If your kid is getting a C in math but it is not highlighted in ridiculous graphics, with big fancy letters, a theme song, and some crashing sound bites -- are you really present?
If your day is overwhelmed by op-ed pieces, I guarantee you are missing out on personal, local realities. This is the good stuff!
2. Be a little picky
The listener has a responsibility. We are the one choosing to sit, absorb and consume all of the information being thrown our way.
Be selective about what you want to know, need to know and how much time you actually want to spend receiving this knowledge.
Do you need to read every editorial from the Wall Street Journal to the Village Voice?
Try and avoid constant overlap -- if it is humanly possible.
3. Like it
What do you enjoy learning about? I rarely read the style section of the New York Times. I am sure it is wonderfully written. However, the truth is I could care less about fashion.
My wardrobe may suffer from this, so be it. But I, as an individual have made this choice. To me, that time could be better spent elsewhere.
Still, many feel they get three gold stars for reading the entire New York Times! On some level, they do. At cocktail parties they are well-informed, become the guy/gal who knows a little bit about everything.
Very Impressive. Good for them. Just know that this is a choice they are making.
4. Moderation, please
If you are sitting at Starbucks with 20 minutes to "waste" and you decide to watch an interview about Mitt Romney's reaction to President Obama's latest speech, make sure you care about Romney's reaction.
Why gather information on a subject you care little about? Some will say they do this to stay current, the responsibility of a well-informed citizen. Cool.
That is why Google rocks! Read what pops up. One or two lines. Get the sound bite -- 30 seconds. Move on.
5. Practical passion
Sometimes people struggle with knowing what they need to know. Be practical.
What do you do for a living? Figure out what information is out there that will help you to excel at your given profession.
What do you love? Figure out if the news you're gobbling speaks to your passions, deepening a comprehension of what already interests you.
This is why I always read the sports section of the Daily News and never miss the "Sports Reporters" on ESPN.
Thanks for your question, and remember if you miss the biggest headlines today -- there will always be a bigger one tomorrow!
Please send any questions or comments to "ASK NOAH" at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a profitable and peaceful week,
For more by Noah Kass, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.