Less news is good news!

Issue #59

Hello!

As part of my ongoing rethink about how I use my smartphone, social media, and the like, I’ve also decided to spend a lot less time looking at the news.

Specifically, I’ve decided to stop following the news day-by-day throughout the week. Do I need to know what chaos is unfolding at any given minute thanks to Brexit, Donald Trump, et al? No. In fact, by following too closely, I think I lose perspective.

So I’m taking a step back. Looking to follow the news on a weekly rather than daily basis. Thankfully, there are still some great publications operating on a weekly cycle and engaging with them recently has been eye-opening.

My latest weekend habit is to combine attacking the ironing pile with listening* to that week’s edition of The Economist. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to live 😉.

I’ve not been doing this for long, but as with my other changing behaviours, I’m already feeling the benefits. Who knew – less news is good news!

Also in this issue…

  • 4 articles that have been grabbing my attention

  • Book notes about Deep Work and Breathing Under Water

Enjoy your weekend!

–Sam

Articles I’ve been reading this week…

  1. Missing: the British government
    This resonated as a concern of mine with these Brexit negotiations taking place is that other important aspects of government would get neglected. Sadly this fear is looking justified.
    The Economist

  2. Simmering: how to improve your sex life in a long-term relationship
    I put this second but we all know this is the link you’re clicking on first! I have to say I found this thought-provoking in a this-makes-a-lot-of-sense kind of way.
    Dr Stephen Snyder, The Times

  3. Improve a bad mood by going outside for 5 minutes
    It turns out – surprise, surprise – that five minutes in nature is far better for you than checking Facebook if you need to get your mood into a better place.
    Emily Price, Life Hacker

  4. Taking photos can dull your fun experiences
    Again, this isn’t rocket science. But it’s interesting to see research supporting the fact that when in the middle of a meaningful experience, taking photos will diminish your enjoyment of it.
    Chuck Finder-Wustl, Futurity

Book notes

Thoughts, observations and reflections on the books I’m reading…

Deep Work by Cal Newport

This book, more than any I've read for some time, has got me making actual changes to my everyday life. Real, practical, substantial changes. It's provocative. Making me think about my life and making the most of it.

The overall premise of the book is about making adjustments to our working patterns so we spend more time doing deep work and less doing shallow.

And without making moral judgements about social media, email, etc, he does make a strong case for dramatically reducing – and often cutting completely – these ‘shallow’ activities from our life. Not because they're wrong or bad per se. But because they hold us back from doing deep work.

I'll wrap this up by sharing a paragraph from the conclusion to the book:

“The deep life, of course, is not for everybody. It requires hard work and drastic changes to your habits. For many, there’s a comfort in the artificial busyness of rapid e-mail messaging and social media posturing, while the deal life demands that you leave much of that behind. There’s also an uneasiness that surrounds any effort to produce the best things you’re capable of of producing, as this forces you to confront the possibility that your best is not (yet) that good. It’s safe to comment on our culture that to step into the Rooseveltian ring and attempt to wrestle it into something better.”

Overall, I highly recommend this. Not all of his suggestions will be right for you. But it will get you taking a step back and thinking deeply about how you can do more, better and deeper work with you life.

Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr

It's been a bit of a season of Richard Rohr for me at the start of 2019. I've mostly been re-reading several of my favourite Franciscan priest’s books. But this one is a new one for me.

It's based around the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, exploring the role addiction plays in all our lives. I've found it helpful and penetrating. It offers a robust framework for finding freedom and healing from addiction and brokenness.

I appreciate Rohr’s honesty too about the truth that the AA movement has often done a far better job of helping people overcome addiction than the church.

There is much to learn from AA, and Rohr does a wonderful job drawing out key lessons that will benefit everyone.