September 28, 2016 § 1 Comment
It might sound like a strange thing for a journalist to say, but sometimes I wonder if the amount of news we consume is such a good idea. Because as much as you rail against the fact that there isn’t any good news in your local newspaper, or on TV, we in the industry know that good news isn’t really what readers are after.
Sure, a feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy story from time to time makes you smile over your breakfast cereal, but there’s a reason people gooseneck at car wrecks – human beings have a morbid fascination with the misfortunes of others. And ‘if it bleeds it leads’. And all of that adds up to a glut of bad news pouring into our hearts and minds 24 hours a day.
When you see the depth and breadth of the misery that humankind inflicts upon itself and others, it’s easy to get into a complete funk. It’s exhausting, demoralising and downright depressing. And the variety of always-on media available to us means it’s almost impossible to avoid.
When you get into that funk it’s easy to believe that there’s no hope for humanity, that somehow despite all of the advances we’ve made, we’re really no better than we’ve ever been. Perhaps we’re even worse. It’s hard to be objective, really.
But I do know this: for every child who misbehaved in class at school, there were 28 or so others behaving well – but the misbehaving child drew the teacher’s ire, and often got the rest of us into trouble too. The bad things might be making the news, but there’s a good chance they’re just that naughty child garnering all the attention.
So I find that sometimes the key is just to step away from the noise – switch off the TV and the radio, put down the newspaper, log out of social media and take a walk in a beautiful place.
Sometimes you have to actively be that force for good in the world. Smile at strangers. Say a kind word to the frazzled cashier at your local supermarket. Smile at the invisible people in our society – the cleaners, the garbage men, the homeless man on the corner. Help an old lady across the road. Give something away to someone who needs it more than you do.
And make yourself a joy list and add to it daily – anything that makes you smile, or lifts your spirits. The sunrise. The sunset. That perfect cup of tea. The sound of your beloved’s voice. The softness of your grandmother’s cheek. A joke shared with a fellow sojourner in a long queue. The tiny fairy flowers on a sprig of thyme. The scent of jasmine on a spring evening. The coolness of your sheets as you sigh into bed after a long day. The cool floor beneath your bare feet. The comfort of another’s hand in yours. A baby’s fat toes. And so on and so forth…
When you start to make a joy list you discover that the world is a place of wonder, but the wonders speak in whispers. And all you have to do is listen.