If you only do one thing to improve your Wealth Health, what should it be? If you’re already paying attention to all six of the Wealth Health BASICS, the answer might be, “Ignore the News Headlines.” Here’s why:
News headlines are sensational on purpose. “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Some level of voyeurism must be built into our human DNA. That’s why we gawk as we drive by an accident or talk about the latest mass murder or corrupted public figure. The news media appeal to that sordid tendency because it sells papers, increases viewership and awards their advertisers.
I struggle with someone else being profitably rewarded because of the human tendency to relish in the pain of others.
Even worse, headline sensationalism tilts decisions in an unhealthy way. One-in-a-billion events are blown up out of proportion. Because that shark attack is easily remembered and the seven of them this year were also covered (in an equally memorable fashion), it seems like shark attacks should be an everyday concern.
This “availability bias” leads to a massive misallocation of resources (time, energy and sometimes money) to protect against low probability threats. We see this in the investing world, too. It’s a major contributor to investor returns trailing market returns by 5-6% (the best reason to pay a qualified investment professional).
As Rohan points out in a recent Learning a Day blog post, a focus on the news tends to put people into “action” or “execution” mode. This can help with productivity, but as we learned in my post from earlier this week (Productivity Isn’t the Key to Your Wealth Health), productivity takes you away from being present, the first (and possibly most important) of the Wealth Health BASICS.
Rohan also suggests that going into execution mode can cut into your creative capacity. If there is one thing I’ve seen with Wealth Coaching clients, the best experiences and richest relationships – the key ingredients to your Quality of Life – come out of the creative process, not just getting stuff done.
Create Your Own Headlines
Try this out. Go a day without those news headlines and spend that time instead doing something that improves an important relationship or gives you a personal experience you’ll remember fondly for the rest of your life. I think you’ll feel better for the effort.
The next day you can go back to the “news” and find out it’s really the “olds” – pretty much the same headlines, just with different actors and specifics.