Information doesn’t provide the peace of mind I always hope it does. With all the information that comes out on a minute by minute basis full of disturbing news on COVID-19, corrupt politicians, unstable schools plans, governors changing requirements and churches re-opening plans, I am trying to learn that this information doesn’t bring me peace of mind or heart. So how do I stay intelligently informed and see all that everyone else is doing on social media yet have peace of mind?
My answer is reminding myself that what I value brings me the most peace of mind during all the decisions I am finding my family faced with making.
Values Drive My Decisions Not Just Data.
Knowledge is essential and vital to life. However more information isn’t always helpful as everyday new statistics come out. Because of this I really need to revisit or establish a value system for my decision making.
I’m sure lots of people were experiencing what my family was this summer with choosing options for our children’s school. Years ago we agonized over choosing the right school for them, and now I find myself back to the deep well of conversations on what’s next for my kids. I found myself needing to be reminded how important it is to follow my values despite what I may be hearing or not hearing in my Facebook feed, mom circles, and news. I know my kids intimately, so I have the best chance at predicting how they will respond to various school scenarios. Looking for data projections or numbers of people doing virtual vs home vs face to face, isn’t going to help me. For me it muddies the water and makes the decision a moving target based on the new information I am hearing. I would never advocate for blind decision making, nor do I make decisions that way in our home, but I have to remind myself that more information isn’t only what I need to make a decision. I need to have values driving my decisions first.
However, no option seems best. So I have to sit in that tension with the data and values and make a decision for and with my children. I’ve concluded that if the information regarding school contradicts what I value is right for my child, I need to listen to that still small voice, and the special instinct I’m given as a parent. For me this is also where prayer comes in.
With uncertainty around every corner, it’s time to reevaluate and know the why behind why I do something. For school its asking myself why I send my children to public or private school? Why would I keep them home? What values am I driven by? The data colors those decisions and tests my values against the new knowledge I learn, however the data is always changing and can’t be the sole determining factor for my decisions. My value system is birthed out of my worldview and my commitment to that. For me, education is a decision that flows from that value set, not from updates from the county, state or CDC.
Limit the Information that I Seek
Honestly, I am influenced by momentum and also not wanting my kids to swim upstream. Social media can be a source of great encouragement or discouragement depending on why I am interacting with it. To combat this fluctuation in emotions I have set a timer on my social media accounts. This has helped me tremendously. Being overloaded with everyone else’s struggles, opinions and questions causes me to look at the wrong things. Others.
I need boundaries to keep me from floundering. It is stated that not watching more than 30 minutes of the news is said to help, as well as reading versus watching the news. Personally I have subscribed to printed news outlets from both ends of the spectrum instead of watching it.
Time Magazine writer Markham Heid writes in his May 19, 2020 article Is it Bad for You to Read the News Constantly? “More than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as a result, the survey shows. Yet one in 10 adults checks the news every hour, and fully 20% of Americans report “constantly” monitoring their social media feeds—which often exposes them to the latest news headlines, whether they like it or not. Of course, many people feel it’s important to stay informed. And it’s understandable that news you find concerning could produce stress and anxiety. But recent changes to the way everyone gets their news—coupled with the style of news that dominates today—may not be good for mental and even physical health.”
The Elusive Peace of Mind
Lots of conversations have to take place to know what I value and why. As parents, couples, friends I need to have these higher level discussions so I don’t operate from a place of fear or panic, but from a place of knowing what important to me and my family. If I make a value based decision, using data to inform me, seeking the best outcome for the situation, there really isn’t a lot more I can control. I find that when I base my decisions on value infused with statistics, opinions or data, I have a lot more peace. So if my values lead me to send my kids to school or keep them kid home or online , I want it to be that we decided what value was highest and most important and proceed from there.
Before I turn on the news or pick up my phone getting swept up in emotions, I hope I can remember that more information won’t bring me peace. Knowing I made a decision from what’s most important to me and my family will give me the best chance at that elusive peace of mind.