We all know that bad news and scandal sells papers. We also know that social media has become a place where people feel they have permission to be abusive and critical of others they don’t agree with. On top of that we know that mental health problems seem to be on the rise and young people in particular suffer with anxiety.
To me this is not surprising as we are surrounded by negativity in the information we are fed on a daily basis. It is hard to stay upbeat and positive if it always sounds as though the world is a terrible to place to live and that awful things happen all the time. Now I am not saying that the world is perfect and that we should turn our back on things that we find distressing. What I am saying is that there are so many good things in the world that are happening every day and so many inspirational people who are creating good out of bad.
I am lucky to be naturally optimistic and I can usually find a positive out of most situations. However, I can understand that it can be difficult to feel positive when you are constantly being bombarded by negative views and depressing takes on situations. I always say to my children that we all have to face difficult situations in our lives – things do go wrong – but we have the power to control the way we react to those events. No one but you can decide what your attitude will be when something bad happens. I believe this positive mindset is what creates people who seem to be lucky and people for whom everything seems to go wrong.
In my work as a freelance marketer for ethical organisations, I always advise my clients to take a optimistic approach to what they do, focusing on the joyful and positive, even if the subject matter can be distressing. This is the approach taken by Fashion Revolution (I worked with the Global Coordination Team for 4 years) - they celebrate people who want to make fashion a fairer and more beautiful industry for everyone involved.
Let me tell you about a potentially annoying situation in which I found myself the other day. I was catching a flight from Ancona to London and my plane was delayed by 8 hours due to a strike by air traffic control. I could have got really angry and felt that my whole day was ruined but actually it turned out to be a lovely one. I met lots of new people, including someone in the environmental field who has become an interesting new contact, a lovely lady with whom I had so much in common and two young women, one of whom is interested in one of the talks I run as part of the Ambassador programme for Breast Cancer UK. As my husband was still close by, he came back and collected me and the 3 ladies and we all went and had a lovely meal in a restaurant on the beach! What could have been a really boring, frustrating day turned out to be a real joy and I made it back to the UK, just a few hours late.
I am glad to say that there are increasing numbers of people who also want to hear about the positive things in the world and there are some exciting magazines which are allowing them to still be informed but from an optimistic viewpoint.
One of those is Positive News magazine which does not ignore the problems in the world but tells the stories of people who are coming up with solutions. For example, in Issue 92, I particularly enjoyed the article about film-maker Stephen Mulhearn, who believes we should ‘forget sleaze, money and violence. Film-making should expose greatness’.
I also enjoy reading The Simple Things, which, as its name suggests, shares those simple pleasures which don’t need a lot of money or fancy tech to enjoy, such as good food, exploring the countryside, looking at wildlife and living a simpler, more natural life.
The other thing I’ve learnt over the years is to not allow yourself to be wound up by events over which you have no control. It can just leave you feeling angry and frustrated. Only try to tackle things which are “within your circle of influence”. This is what Stephen R Covey recommended in his book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Influential People”. If you are concerned about a problem in the world, do something small in your own life rather than getting worked up and railing against people over whom you have no influence.
So next time you watch the news or read something online, which makes you really angry, consider whether you would actually be better not reacting and thinking rather of a way you could do something positive in your own life to turn that feeling on its head.