Improve Your Quality of Life in One Easy Step

by Dr. Joseph McCaffrey on August 18, 2009 · 0 comments

By Dr. Joseph McCaffrey

The quality of life is more important than life itself.” 

 – Alexis Carrel

Let me propose an experiment, one aimed at immediately improving the quality of your life. It’s simple, it will cost you absolutely nothing, and as a bonus it will give you a clearer understanding of our modern world.


To begin, let’s cover a little background material. Here’s a bold claim: Our point of mental focus determines our quality of life. That may overstate it some, but consider that claim for a moment.

Mental focus means what you pay attention to. It’s what you look at, think about, remember, imagine, ponder, and dream of. You have a point of focus in every moment, and your experience of life is what you’re looking at.

Here’s an example of mental focus.

Right now chose to remember two events from your past.

First, pick one that was a moment of great joy and success. As you recall that moment and think about it in detail, how do you feel? Your point of focus has affected the way you feel right now.

Now, recall a moment of disappointment and failure. How do you feel as you relive that in your mind? I suspect not as good as a moment ago.

Get off of that subject. Go back to the good memory.

Now what changed as you went from one memory to the other in that little thought experiment? Weren’t all the details of your life – where you live, what you do, who you know, etc – the same? Yet the quality of your experience of life in the present moment (the only moment we have) changed as you shifted your focus from one memory to the other. Your mental focus affected your quality of life. That’s what I mean by our point of focus determining the quality of our life.

So what determines our point of focus?

It’s possible to choose our point of focus, but most of us don’t. Most of the time, most people give their attention to whatever is most noticeable around them. They don’t choose. As a result they give up control of their life’s experience.

With that background, consider the news media.

The media picks stories based on the story’s sensationalism. They are always bad news stories, the more heart-rending the better. They certainly are attention getting. As you focus on them, how do you feel? Why would you choose to focus on something that makes you feel that poorly? You don’t have to. You do have a choice.

And that brings us to the experiment I mentioned at the beginning. The experiment is this: go without reading, watching or listening to any form of news media for two weeks. That means no newspapers, no top-of-hour news summary, no news magazines, no news blogs, no evening news shows – none of any of it.

If you want to go to the next level, fill the time you’d normally use to focus on the media to focus on something that you find fun, that’s uplifting, that’s positive. In short, to focus on things that create the opposite experience of the media’s choices.

When I first read of this experiment years ago, I was a little skeptical. Then, my clock radio went off one morning right in the middle of the pop rock radio station’s hourly news summary. In rapid-fire sequence, they reported on a school bus accident in New Jersey, a local man killed when someone threw a cinder block off an overpass as he was driving by, and a child trapped in an abandoned well in Texas. I had gotten to the “off” button as quickly as I could, and they still managed to get those juicy tid-bits into my brain.

Why in the world did I need to think about any of that? What could I do to change any of it? The only effect any of those stories had on my life was to make me feel bad as I thought of them.

Using just that example, imagine going through your morning routine with thoughts of a school bus accident. Is that really the best way to begin your day? Wouldn’t you rather be listening to uplifting music, thinking of things you’re grateful for, or thinking of… well, whatever you want to think of?

And that’s the point. Your power is your power to choose. Don’t let the media do it for you. Try it for two weeks. It’s only an experiment – you can always go back to listening to all the news you want when the experiment’s over. My bet is you won’t want to.

About the Author:  Joseph F. McCaffrey, MD, FACS is a board-certified surgeon and HeartMath Trainer with extensive experience in both alternative and complementary medical practices. His areas of expertise include mind-body interaction and cognitive restructuring.  Dr. McCaffrey strives to help people attain their optimum level of vitality by stressing wellness rather than disease. To learn more, click HERE

[Editor’s Comments: We never did watch a lot of TV news in our house, and there are times when I’ll go days without reading a paper.

Do I miss it?

Nope…not really. Sure, I enjoy reading the sports section, business section and the comics. But if I don’t read the local, national or international news for a few days, it doesn’t really affect me one way of the other.

I spend most of my time reading about nutrition, fitness and medical breakthroughs (both alternative and traditional) anyway. 

What about you? Do you crave the latest headlines…good or bad? Is your day incomplete without the knowledge that Britney Spears  is back in rehab? Leave a Comment and let us know.]


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