Tag Archives: TV

Custody of the eyes

Dr. Ken Larsen

I have a friend who used to be a Franciscan nun.  It has been interesting through the years to hear her tell about life in the convent.  Her anecdotes are sometimes funny, sometimes not, but always colored with the wisdom that comes from reflecting on the experience of life.

One of the practices she described was “custody of the eyes”.  This was part of the way of life in the convent.  What it meant, essentially, is that each nun was responsible for where she focused her visual attention.  This practice taught the important principle that we have choices over what we put into our brain through our vision.

When I first heard her describe “custody of the eyes” I was reminded of the old computer aphorism, “Garbage in, garbage out.”  What we put into our brain/mind becomes the stuff of our thoughts, our memories, our dreams and reflections.  I believe our mental health and happiness is connected to the quality of our thought processes, which are formed by what we take in through our eyes and other senses.

Why am I telling you this?   For a while now I have avoided television news broadcasts, often because they bring images and information into my brain that are not helpful to me in maintaining my mental health and happiness.  This does not mean that I adopt an ostrich approach.  There are many thoughtful, responsible sources for staying informed that do not involve the sensationalism of television news shows.

sunAnother thing that strikes me is how many of the popular TV series are focused on murder, violence, and the hatred and ill will that generate violence.

I went to a movie with a friend recently and was afflicted with nearly a half hour of previews of coming films that were largely the stuff of nightmares.

What is a reasonable way to think about the role public entertainment plays in our life and culture?

I close with the following words from Newton Minow, the newly appointed Chairman of the FCC given to the National Association of Broadcasters in May 1961.  A bit idealistic perhaps, but thoughtful, even noble in its meaning and intent.

Television and all who participate in it are jointly accountable to the American public for respect for the special needs of children, for community responsibility, for the advancement of education and culture, for the acceptability of the program materials chosen, for decency and decorum in production, and for propriety in advertising. This responsibility cannot be discharged by any given group of programs, but can be discharged only through the highest standards of respect for the American home, applied to every moment of every program presented by television.

Turn it Off

By Denise Daub

This past week I tried something new… I turned off the TV.

Instead of watching the news with my coffee, I sat on my deck.  I took time to journal, read and think.  At the end of the day if  I found my eyes  to be too tired to read, I listened to my ipod or meditated.


It wasn’t too difficult, I can never find anything to watch anyway. Whenever I turn on the TV I usually end up feeling frustrated because there is nothing on that interests me.  My husband can always find something to watch which just makes me more frustrated because not only is there nothing I want to watch, I don’t want to watch what he wants to watch either!

I finally realized how much time I was wasting in front of the boob tube watching mindless shows that don’t interest me and getting angry at the TV.  So, I turned it off and found all this extra time to do things that I have been wanting to do, but just never seem to have the time.

Now, not only am I being more constructive with my time,  I am not wasting time being angry at the TV.

Needless to say I am happier and my mental health has definitely improved.  🙂


Is it time to go on a new diet?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Lately it seems as though the world is becoming a more negative, scary and out of control place. Are people nastier, more competitive, cut throat and unkind? The number of shootings is increasing stirring up not only death and destruction but all the accompanying hostility and angry arguments about gun control or freedom. Questions and concerns about mental health services, or lack of, as well as fights over funding seem never ending.

Yikes! The more I hear the more discouraged I become. I worry that I’m becoming one of those grumpy “old people” who think the world is becoming nothing but doom and gloom, not like the “good old days.”

On closer inspection I’ve begun a more personal, internal inspection of myself and how I interact with the world instead of only focusing on the world. How much time am I spending watching crazy cable news shows that focus on delivering only those doom and gloom stories? Too much time! No wonder I’m feeling discouraged and down hearted!

You would never invite a thief into your house. So why would you allow
                        thoughts that steal your joy to make themselves at home in your mind? 

Many years ago I decided to stop watching and reading the news. I went on a “news diet.” Initially I worried that this action would result in me becoming an uninformed citizen. Remarkably, I still learned and was informed about the important news of the day.

odeI remained loyal to one radio news program that gave me actual balanced information about the important news of the day. I heard about the full story and I was told the good news as well as the important news. It was not all doom, gloom and destruction. It was not the same three terrifying news stories told over and over and over again.

 It was time I returned to that news diet all over again. I had become an unconscious consumer of the 24 hour cable news programming. This choice was interfering with my good mental health and happiness. I needed to return to consuming only the programming that would enhance my joy!

The world is an ugly, destructive and out of control place. The world is also a beautiful, remarkable and kind place. I get to choose how I spend my attention and time. I can choose the version of the world I focus on. Now I choose to change my news diet toward what will enhance my mental health & happiness!