27 Aug A GOOD NEWS STORY ABOUT GOOD NEWS STORIES
By Dr Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy)
In my role as Chief Happiness Officer at batyr, I coordinate and deliver regular wellbeing sessions. In recent times, not surprisingly, we’ve focused a lot on resilience and coping with adversity but yesterday, I decided to do something a bit different. I ran a #GOODNEWS edition; a whole session focusing on and sharing positive stories from around the world.
I’m well aware that many people are doing it tough, and I don’t in any way want to diminish the significance of the challenges many are facing, but I’m also well aware that we should not fall into the trap of ignoring all that’s going well.
In fact, focusing on what’s going well can boost positivity and energy and resilience and then, make it easier to cope. My session with the team at batyr seemed to be very well received and I couldn’t help but share some lovely feedback …
“Such a good session Tim!”
“I think exactly what we needed at the moment. You nail it every time! And … That was the best possible session ever!!!”
A few people also suggested to me that others might benefit from the content I presented and so I’m happy to share a modified version with you here…
Life might seem pretty tough at the moment. Life IS pretty tough at the moment. In different ways, everyone reading this would have been affected by Covid and lockdowns and generally, by the disruption that’s occurred throughout the world over the last 18 months or so. Many of us have had to change how and where we work, and many of us have had limited (if any) access to activities we’d normally find satisfying and pleasurable.
And it might seem at times like things won’t ever get better!
But they WILL be better. Although the delta variant might be worse than the original Covid 19, and although infection rates might be higher than last year, and although some of us have been in lockdown for what seems like a million years…
We now have a vaccine, and it’s a safe and an effective vaccine, and the number of people getting vaccinated is increasing fast.
So, in the foreseeable future, it’s highly likely that when vaccination rates reach a certain level restrictions will be eased, and businesses will be allowed to open up, and we’ll get back out into the world with relative safety.
So, this too shall pass.
And until then, we have a choice …
We can get lost in the misery of what we CAN’T do and what we’ve LOST. Or we can accept that “this is what it is” and try to focus more on what’s good and what’s going well.
Now, at the risk of stating the obvious, it’s definitely OK not to be OK. But it’s also definitely OK to try to be OK (at least, as best we can). And one way to do that is to actively focus on whatever’s positive in the world.
Now I’m well aware this is easier said than done. Especially for those of us with a tendency towards depression or anxiety (or, for that matter, any form of mental ill-health or any of the many very real stressors you might be experiencing). And even without these, we humans do often find ourselves drawn to the dark side.
According to evolutionary psychologists we have what’s called a negativity bias, a hard wiring in our brains for negativity. It’s that tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. And if our own human biases weren’t bad enough … there’s the news!
Now this negativity bias isn’t all bad; in many ways it helped us to survive and to evolve by directing our attention to risk and to danger and so, therefore, it protected us from threats. But there’s no doubt that it can be unhelpful; especially if allowed to thrive and to take us down that rabbit hole of doom scrolling and distress.
So, it’s important to think about what we can do about it. And the good news is that we can do something about all this. One thing that separates humans from other animals is our ability to override some of these basic instincts. We are, or at least can be, more than our “lizard brains”.
And again, one way to do this is to focus on and direct our minds to the positives; to savour and be grateful for what’s good in the world and in our worlds actively and mindfully.
Which is what I want to do here today. And it’s what I want to encourage you to do right now. I’m going to invite you to reflect upon just a few good news stories and to contemplate all the good people doing good things.
If that sounds good to you, then let’s get started…
- In the recent Olympic Games, when faced with a choice of fighting out for the gold and silver medals OR both sharing Gold, athletes from Qatar and Italy agreed to share the win, celebrating the idea that we can have more than one victor in certain situations
- Following recent events in Afghanistan, Airbnb announced it will help house up to 20,000 refugees by coordinating with Airbnb hosts who want to offer their homes for free, or at a discounted rate, with the charitable arm of the organisation picking up the rest of the bill, as well as any other operational expenditures
- On a completely different note, the population of mountain gorillas, an endangered species, has increased by 71% in the last decade thanks to conservation efforts including protected reserves
- Different again, but incredibly good news for many individuals and families, a Canadian group called the Rainbow Railroad is helping thousands of those from the LGBTQI+ community escape persecution in many of the countries where their lives are literally at risk just for being who they
- And finally, a wonderful story that began with a mistake, saw two random strangers who received a misdirected text message turn up at a hospital with gifts for a mother who’d just given birth to her new baby
These, and stories like these, happen each and every day, in each and every country, state, city and town the world over. Yet too often we don’t hear about them; too often they’re overlooked, with attention being directed towards what are considered by some to be the more “serious” news stories.
But I, for one, think these types of stories are VERY serious, and very important, for us to all hear or read AND for us to share. Which is why I’m sharing these today. And which is why I encourage you all to actively seek out GOOD NEWS and actively SHARE the good news.
To get you started, here are a few of my favourite websites (and if you know of any others, please feel free to share or post below):
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting we should ignore the cold, hard realities of the world OR pretend everything is fantastic (when it’s not). But I am suggesting, because I know this to be true from personal experience and solid scientific research, that appropriately and realistically focusing on what’s good is healthy and helpful for us. And I’d suggest it’s even more important during these difficult times.
So, if you’ve found this helpful in any small way then make it a part of your daily routine. Actively search out good news stories; actively share good news stories. Share them with your family and friends, your colleagues and throughout your organisation. If you have some positivity, then … don’t keep it to yourself!