Other than substance abuse, what is the most destructive habit or addiction?
I would argue that since mid 2015 the top destructive addictive habit for many Amercians has been following national political news.
And I’m not just throwing around the word addiction casually. According to the American Society of Addictive Medicine:
“Addiction is characterized by an inability to consistently abstain (from a substance), impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”
Are you addicted to national political news?
Here are a few telltale signs:
If you don’t read, listen to, or watch some political news every day, you feel anxious and deprived.
Political news draws your immediate attention and it’s hard to pull yourself away.
You can spend hours reading, listening to or watching political news, even if there’s a lot of repetition.
Your involvement in political news takes you away from more productive and rewarding life activities (not to mention moving your business and marketing forward).
You can find many thoughtful articles on political news addiction online, Just Google: “political news addiction” and read a few.
Here’s my perspective, and it’s a very personal one.
As a political news addict myself for the past three years, I’ve seen the costs, and I’d like to share what I’m doing to combat this addiction – and how I’m substituting it for something more inspiring.
Step 1. My first step about two years ago was to cut my cable TV subscription. I was watching as many as three hours of political news shows every evening. It was becoming toxic.
I substituted cable TV with subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Acorn, and CBS All-Access. My wife and I now watch quality programming on our time schedule with no commercials and zero political shows. (Yeah, even this is a little addictive, but much less toxic.)
It can be challenging to eliminate CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. but in a week or two you’ll notice a big difference in your well-being.
Step 2. More insidious perhaps, is the preponderance of political news online. On my iPad I had bookmarks to 12 different political websites, and would scan through them daily, reading the most current articles – sometimes for-hours-on-end.
Ultimately, this wasn’t much better than watching TV. I’d often read several articles before I started work each morning. What a downer, and what a great way to suppress my creativity and productivity. It was really starting to show.
With the help of a coach, I chose a new online activity to substitute for reading political news articles.
It was a simple and easy switch, actually. I replaced all my political bookmarks to links to articles and information that inspires and uplifts me and helps me feel more creative, and productive.
Of course, there are endless sources for material like this online, but I have two that I find to be especially potent antidotes to political news addiction.
Medium.com – For me, Medium is the best place for general interest articles, with tons of great ideas on personal growth and business.
My favorite current Medium writer is James Clear who writes on: “… topics like health, happiness, creativity, productivity, success and more. The central question that drives my work is, ‘How can we live better?’ To answer that question, I like to write about science-based ways to solve practical problems.”
In my estimation, his articles are tremendously insightful and always leave me pondering new and exciting possibilities.
Right now, my main substitute to checking political headlines every morning is to read one or two James Clear articles – even before I get up. Before long, my brain has clicked into “creative productivity mode” and my day takes a more positive, energetic shape.
If James Clear, doesn’t float your boat, just use the search function on Medium to find articles on any topic under the sun. Just avoid the political ones! (However, even on that topic, you’ll find more interesting, thought-provoking articles than on most news sites.)
This certainly beats, the, “Oh, crap, what are they doing now, we’re all screwed!” mindset that is generated by reading political articles that tend to quash creativity and productivity.
Another great source for inspiration are Ted-Talk videos. Most are under 20 minutes; all are thought provoking, and many are inspiring enough to trigger new ideas and possibilities. You might start with the 25 All-Time Most Popular Ted Talks.
Political news addiction is real. And if you have it, it’s damaging you in some way, either subtly or obviously. And the best way to change an addictive habit is to replace it with a positive one. I urge you to give this approach an honest try.
The inspiration for writing this article came from a James Clear article I read this morning on how to change a bad habit. Thanks James!