As I was checking the local weather forecast this morning, getting ready for an arctic blast that will sweep through the Midwest in the coming days, I happened to see this at the bottom of the page:

You May Like

You may like? Really?

An alien sent from another planet to observe my morning reading might assume that such tragic stories are daily life for most people in 2014 in Wisconsin. In fact, that is exactly how we humans do react, even if we aren’t aware it.

What psychologists call the “availability heuristic” explains the tendency for us to assign importance based on what we can most remember or call to mind, rather than what we know to be most prevalent or crucial. As Ross Pomeroy explains, we are guided by a fear “founded in emotion, not based in evidence.”

My own experience tells me that if I spend too much time digesting headlines like the ones above, the price I pay is an unrelenting sense of pressure, a free-floating anxiety that colors everything a cold metal gray. That’s not to say that I want to stick my head in the sand and pretend that bad things don’t happen.

But I can remind myself that they don’t happen all or even most the time. And I certainly don’t have to like them.